Best Tips for Easing Back into the School Routine

Don’t want to think about Back to School yet?  You’re not alone – but the more prepared you are, the smoother the transition will be for both you and the kids!  So, as you squeeze in one last trip to the beach or get packed for a final summer getaway – take a minute or two to begin getting yourself organized for back to school.  You’ll be glad you did.  And to help you out, here is our list of top tips for an easy, stress-free return to school:

  1. Reset the Clock - Bedtime routines are often non-existent during the summer months, but with school about to start up, now is a good time to reset the kids’ internal sleep clocks. Set a strict bedtime and stick with it; re-introduce quiet wind-down activities.

  2. Prepare to Freeze – Meals, that is! Conquer the dinnertime scramble by cooking and freezing meals in advance.  Prepare double batches, then freeze in smaller portions.  When you are bogged down with chauffeur detail, homework, and the rest of the school year scramble, dinner is already cooked – just remove from the freezer, defrost, and you’re ready to go.

  3. Dry Run – Both younger and older children can benefit from familiarizing themselves with new schools and new routines.  Schedule a visit to a new school, check out the playground and recess space, and map out the walk to school.  Older kids should even time how long it will take to walk to school so they know when to leave in the morning (don’t forget to tack on a few extra minutes for notoriously difficult to rise teenagers!).

  4. Create a Schedule – Print out a Monthly calendar, then together jot down all after-school activities, chores, prospective homework schedules etc.  Reviewing your expectations and your child’s commitments will help you (and them) find any double-bookings – and will also help everyone visualize if they are over-committed.

  5. Reading Rules – It’s time to dust off that pile of book sitting on the kid’s nightstand.  Studies have shown that even a few minutes a day can get your child academically “re-acclimated” faster.  Make reading a family activity.  Instead of turning on the TV after dinner, everyone grab a book…and read!

  6. Get Ready to Go Checklist – Even kindergarten-aged children are old enough to accept responsibility for getting ready for school.  Have each child create a personalized checklist of all morning obligations (packing a lunchbox and snack, checking for homework, making beds, brushing teeth, etc.).  Concrete expectations will head off any potential arguments and help alleviate the morning rush.

  7. Set Limits  - Start setting firmer screen-time limits now to avoid the inevitable fights (and withdrawal) once school starts.   Enforce no screens after 8PM – maybe even consider a library card system of checking in and out personal devices.  Getting control now will make saying no easier later on.

  8. Survival Kit, Part One - Create an emergency snack bin in the car – store small Ziploc bags of pretzels, crackers and other non-perishable snacks for the mornings that you forget to pack one and for the after school rush.

  9. Clutter Buster – Take control of the clutter before it begins. Buy a photo album and let each child decorate the outside – you’ll be ready to take pictures of their artwork and other projects (and then can throw away all but the most precious to avoid clutter).

  10. Survival Kit, Part Two  - Stock up now on essential at home supplies (you know, the ones that you don’t realize you need until your child is frantically screaming she has a project due TOMORROW and you have none of the required supplies). Buy in bulk to save money - poster board, post it notes, markers, crayons, glue sticks, sticker letters, stencils, index cards, etc.

  11. Lunch Du Jour - Create a lunch box menu for the week BEFORE you go shopping – having all the ingredients in the house will help making lunches easier PLUS more varied and creative. 

Written by Jenny Tananbaum, Suburban Mom