Getting your kids to switch from the crazy, free days of summer into a Back-to-School routine again can be a challenge. “I don’t want to go to bed!” “Why can’t I stay up?” But with the new school season creeping closer, we need to get the kids (and the parents) back on track, so we aren’t so sluggish and disorganized when school starts again. With just a little advanced planning, you can get everyone back into a School frame of mind.
Get in the Groove Again. A week or two before school starts, get the kids back onto a school night sleep routine. No more waking up at noon or with younger kids, no more waking up at 6 a.m. for no reason. Reestablish a bed time, start reading a story again before bed, and wake the kids up earlier in the morning to get their body back into a “school sleeping cycle.”
State the Rules. Sit down at the dinner table one night and lay down your expectations for the school year. Remind them of the family rules like:
- No breakfast until they are fully dressed
- Backpack ready the night before
- No friends over until homework is done
- No TV or Wii until homework is done
By stating these up front as a reminder, your kids should have the rules down pat by oh, say Middle School. However, you’ll feel better that you did your “Momly” duty.
Show ’em you mean it. As a visual reminder, make a chart that reminds the kids what they need to do each morning or before bed – brush teeth, get backpack ready, set out clothes for the next day, make bed. This takes away your need to nag, … or at least nag less. There are some great ones to buy, download for free, or make your own.
Get a Family Calendar. A Master Family Calendar is imperative for keeping track of the family’s commitments and should be easily accessible for everyone. Teach your kids how to look at the family calendar and increase their sense of responsibility by letting them know what they need to prepare for the next day. Keep the calendar in the kitchen or a common room. Here are some ideas to keep on track:
- Once school starts, have them sit with you and write in which days they have gym, art or music. That way you know if you need to bring or wear sneakers on gym day.
- Make it a habit to look at the calendar together after dinner so that everyone can prepare.
- Check their backpack to find those papers with new important dates to mark on the calendar.
Dad will appreciate the family calendar when he comes home from work and can’t find anyone. He can check the calendar and see we’re all at soccer practice. Even if you use your Smartphone to keep your personal schedule, it’s nice to a have a written central calendar that the rest of the family can refer to, as well.
Give your self the gift of time. Keeping yourself upbeat and calm in the morning can work wonders on how your kid’s day goes. They can sense your mood. If you are stressed and rushing, they are stressed. Whether you get up extra early to begin the day with some peace and quiet, or down a cup of extra strong coffee; be sure to give your child your brightest smile and a sense of calm in the morning- that is the best gift you can give to help them through the rest of the day. While it’s not fair that you are the one that needs to sacrifice those extra precious minutes of sleep, it’s better for all to not be freaked out in the morning.
Breakfast, it does a body good. Breakfast doesn’t need to be elaborate but it does set the energy level for the whole day. Keep it simple with cereal, yogurt, granola, fruit, whole grain frozen waffles and hard boiled or scrambled eggs, if they’ll eat it. We introduced our kids to a European-style bread, ham and cheese breakfast and they love it. It’s easy to make on a busy school morning. My kids also love VitaMuffins and our microwave scrambled egg cooker. It’s a fast and easy way to get protein into them. On Sunday, make pancakes or French toast and freeze it for the week. Don’t let your kids skip breakfast though. Have them eat a cereal bar or banana at the very least, to get the brain going. The week before school starts, get up a little earlier and try out some new breakfast options to see which the kids like best. (If your kids are like mine, their tastes change monthly. Something they hated last year may suddenly be OK.) This way once school starts, you have a breakfast plan.
What works for you to get your family back into a school routine? Read more Back-to-School Sanity Saving tips at my blog, ChocolateCakeMoments.com.