Two young, happy girls standing in front of a school bus.

How to Get Back in the Back-To-School Groove

Parenting can be hard this time of the year. It’s our job to get our families ready to dive back into the school routine, but sometimes the process can leave us feeling drained. Summer was a blur of sun-soaked family outings and late nights with plenty of snacking, but now it’s time to put away the pool floaties and break out the backpacks. Don’t be surprised when you’re met with some resistance… even from yourself. Back-to-school means additional structure, routine, and rules for our kids, and us, too.

As parents, it’s our job to help our kids find their way back into their good school habits. It’s not the most fun thing to do, but the good news is that there are ways it can be done fairly easily, and sometimes without your kids even realizing it. Try some of these tips for transitioning, and good luck parents!

1. Bedtime routines
One of the first habits to go out the window when summer arrives is abiding by a solid bedtime routine. We get it; the days are longer and sometimes summer activities don’t fit into the exact sleep times. But now, it’s time to dust off their alarm clocks and start getting serious about sleep habits again. Start getting your child to bed 10-15 minutes earlier every evening, until they’re back to their normal bedtime. Follow a similar pattern for waking them in the morning, until they are back to waking at their normal time. Because you’re trying to gradually shift their sleep routine, it’s best to start this process at least 2 weeks before school starts.

2. Reinforce healthy meal choices
S’mores for supper is fun, but no longer an option. Sure, there were a lot of things we overlooked the last couple of months in the name of summer fun, but good nutrition needs to become a focus again as school starts. Be sure every meal includes a variety of fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and protein to keep their tummies full. A balanced breakfast is especially important. Ask your child the night before what they might like for breakfast the next morning so you can be prepared.

3. Discuss responsibilities, rewards, and consequences
Take time to talk with your child about your expectations. It’s not always fun to lay down the law, but when everyone has a clear understanding of the rules, it can mean smoother sailing for everyone. If you’re unclear on your expectations regarding chores, homework, screen time, or other privileges, take some time to write down your thoughts before approaching your child.

4. Give them time to adjust
The first few weeks back at school can seem like a big shock. Don’t be surprised if your first-grader comes home and falls asleep before dinner, or your teenager seems more temperamental than usual. Adjusting to a new routine takes time, but we promise, it will happen eventually.