Summer is winding down quickly: The days are getting shorter. Your kid has a backpack full of school supplies ready. You’ve attended the back-to-school parent meeting. And the first day of school is quickly approaching.
Transitioning back into a school routine can be hard, both for you and your kids. Here are some ways to ease back into that routine as painlessly as possible:
Put kids to bed earlier.
It seems obvious, but it’s easy to miss: If your kids will need to wake up earlier for school than they did during the summer, you’ll need to adjust their bedtime as well. Kids need their sleep: Preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep, and school-aged kids need 9-11 hours each night. Make sure your child is getting the sleep he needs by adjusting both his wake-up time and his bedtime. And before the earlier bedtime, get your child ready for bed with consistent, soothing routines and no screen time.
Prep the night before.
Have your child mentally and physically prepare for the next day of school by letting her pick out an outfit, put her shoes by the door, fill up her backpack the night before. This is especially important if your kid is hard to rouse from sleep or drags her feet through her morning routine. Prepping the night before helps you stay sane, too—no more running around the house trying to find your child’s other shoe or memory work verse.
Do a test run.
Don’t panic: You’ve still got just under a week to mentally prepare your kids—and yourself—for earlier wake-up times and a new routine. Consider doing a test run of the routine a few days before school actually starts: Have your child get her backpack ready the night before, have her go to bed at her school-year bedtime, and wake her up at the time you’ll need to wake up for school. Doing a practice run helps your child ease back into the routine, and it helps you better plan for the first day of school—if you notice your child is particularly slow at tying his shoes or eating breakfast, you know that you’ll need to allot more time for these activities on actual school days.
The best part of doing a test run? You’ll all be up and ready to do something fun before summer ends. Go to the library and pick out some books to read, explore science and nature in the area, or brush up on some math skills through fun activities before your little ones head back to school.
Don’t overschedule throughout the year.
Once you and your kids have your new school routine down, keep it simple. Don’t overschedule throughout the school year. Running from school to dance practice to soccer practice and then home for homework can make kids tired, regardless of if their bedtime is earlier than it was during the summer. Check in with your kid frequently and ask how he’s feeling—does your son still enjoy basketball, or is it stressing him out too much? Are his grades suffering because he’s just so busy after school? While experiencing a range of sports and extracurricular activities is good for kids—just make sure you’re not overdoing it.