I should be happy that the kids are going back to school.
After two and a half months of chaos, I will finally get my alone time back. Six glorious daily hours of peace and quiet!
Plus, our family desperately needs structure, which seems to have dissolved in the summer heat. A structured school day, with a well-defined beginning and an end, and of course homework to occupy the kids when they’re home, sounds pretty good right now, with all the “I’m bored!” and “what should I do now?” whining going on.
But I’m not happy. You see, each year when the school year ends, I dread summer break. I dread the lack of “me” time and privacy, the lack of structure, the constant need to come up with activities for kids.
But then we comfortably settle into our summer break routine, or lack thereof, and when it’s time to go back to school, I really dread the rushed mornings, the tight schedule, and the lack of quality time with my kids.
Going back to school doesn’t have to be painful, though. Here are a few tips to make going back to school easier – on your kids and on yourself:
Plan in advance: ease the family into a school-year routine
It’s a good idea to re-establish the bedtime and mealtime routines at least a week before school starts. Your kids should go to bed on time, and wake up on time. You can do this gradually over the week, in half-hour increments. You should also go back to your regular meal routine: serve a healthy snack in the afternoon and, if possible, sit together for a family dinner.
It’s also a good idea to avoid morning television during this week. If your child reads, writes or does puzzles in the morning, it will be easier for him to go back to a routine of learning in the morning.
To make sure your kids cooperate, talk with them about the importance of these routines, and explain why it’s a good idea to re-establish them gradually.
Prevent crazy mornings
Once the kids are back to school, the best way to avoid rushed mornings is to wake up your child on time. Try to give her plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and get to school.
Another helpful tip is to do as much as you can the night before. For example, setting up the breakfast table, packing lunchboxes, and laying out your kids’ clothes the night before should shave about fifteen minutes off your morning routine.
Buy school supplies early, but delay clothes shopping
Try to get school supplies as early as possible – aim to fill those backpacks at least two weeks before school resumes. However, you can probably delay buying fall clothes. School starts in August – you probably have several more weeks before your child really needs warmer clothes. Going back to school does not necessarily have to turn into a spend-fest.
Establish a streamlined afternoon routine right from the start
Serve a healthy snack as soon as the kids get back from school. This is a great time for you to sit down with your children and chat about their day.
Establish a firm rule of “homework first, play and television later.” Your kids should also be responsible for emptying their backpack and giving you any notices or info that was sent by their teachers. Each child should have a designated place to do homework.
Can you share any more tips for making going back to school easier?
Photo credit: Claudia Snell