With fall fast approaching and school starting, getting back into a routine is so important for both kids and adults. The lack of schedule in the summer is restorative; slower mornings, family time and less structure is important for everyone in your family to rest and relax. But I do know many parents who are looking forward to their kids getting back to school and getting back into the routine. Personally, I always have mixed feelings about this...I love having the extra time in the summer with the kids, but I also know that returning to a predictable schedule is important for all of us as well. Our school year starts this week in Colorado so I thought I would share with you what our top tips are for easing back into the school routine without too much stress.
1. Get into the habit of making lunches the night before. This is a new school year and new habits can be formed. Each night when I am cleaning up from dinner I also prepare lunches. I am already in the kitchen and I haven't settled into my latest Netflix binge so it makes it easy to get them done. I ALWAYS am thankful in the morning when I just have to pull the lunch boxes out of the fridge and throw them in the kids back pack. This habit takes me a couple of weeks to get into but once I'm in it's a regular habit and I don't look back. It is a simple change that has huge pay off!
2. Get serious about a bedtime routine. Our bedtime routine during the school year is sacred. We rarely stray from it. It promotes more sleep, happy mornings and parent time in the evening. Our kids have a bath most nights. This calms them and sets them on the track for dreamville...oh and it makes sure they are clean :). After that we do teeth, a story and a few songs. Both kids are in bed by 7:30pm. Our six year old is an avid reader and has started reading for about 15 minutes after we say goodnight to him, but his lights are out by 8pm. This year we are going to add putting out his clothes for the next day the night before, as well. I know that this routine might not work for everyone, but find a routine that works for you, and your family, and stick to it. You will also be happier parents if you get your own time together in the evening as well. Children (and maybe parents too) thrive on routine and knowing what is coming. Our kids know this routine now and they don't often disagree with it.
3. Plan your week on Sunday night. We sit down on Sunday night and look at the week ahead. We look at who needs to be where, who will be available for what and what activities everyone has. This way my husband and I know what the week looks like and we can adjust anything if we need. My husband travels for work often (three out of four weeks of the month) so this is an important weekly habit. I know some families who have a shared calendar with reminders and I would love this! Our challenge is that my husband's work calendar cannot be shared with me, so we have a paper version on the fridge and I have one on my computer. If the weekly schedule is organized, then there is no stress on Thursday night as to who will pick up Jimmy from soccer practice.
4. Schedule in down time. We often forget that our kids are little humans who need many of the same things adults do. I can't go from thing to thing to thing without losing my mind, so why should I expect my small human to? In 2019 there are so many activities, clubs and sports that our kids are involved in. We often want to expose them to the many opportunities there are, so that they can grow and learn and be well rounded adults...BUT they need rest too. You shouldn't be surprised when your child is melting down on a Friday night if they have had an activity everyday after school...this includes after school care! Plan down time in your week. Everyone will be happier and healthier if you don't over schedule your family. Use this down time to connect with your kids and have them share the things they are doing at school or in their activities. Maybe you plan this night to be a family board game night ,or it is a night where you all read together. Whatever you do for down time it shouldn't just be on Friday nights.
I hope that I have been able to give you some new tips and tricks to help you transition easily to a new school year. I would love to hear from you what is working and any other ideas that work well with your family. This can be a tough time of the year but you've got this!