Establishing New Schedules
You've got the school supplies, you've been carefully talking up the start of school and acknowledging the mixed emotions that come with transitions, so you're all set for school, right? Close...but not quite. There are a few more things you need to do to be ready for the start of school. To make the transition really smooth, you probably need to adjust some things in your daily schedule, too.
Addressing the day to day practictallities of sleep routines, chores, even menus and food shopping, does not happen in a day. As with the emotional process of getting ready for school, it's a transition. And easing the trasition over time (as long as a couple or few weeks!) and help make the transition almost seamless.
Adjusting sleep routines
If you're like many parents, the sleep routines got a little looser during the summer months. Without having to be out the door at exactly a certain time each morning, bedtime inched a little later and later, and morning rise times did the same. Even if you think, "Enjoy the summer while you can!" this is one area where and earlier adjustment will benefit all of you later. With more and more research indicating the importance of sleep in learning, don't let your kids start the school year tired!
Identify the time your kids will need to be in bed during the school year and the time they typically go to bed now. Work backwards in 15 minute increments to figure out when you need to start the transition: fifteen minutes earlier for several nights, then fifteen minutes more, and so on until they've been going to bed at the right time for several nights before the first day of school. Don't forget to wake them up earlier in those same increments, too.
Adjusting chores and responsibilities
Many families take the start of school as an opportunity to reevaluate household chores and responsibilities. With the new school year and the new school schedule (heck, maybe a new school!), you may need to adjust who does what and when. If your older child has been helping with the dog but is now getting on an earlier bus, maybe the dog duty should fall to the younger child, and the older one can pick up something new in the afternoon? Again, start these new responsibilities a couple weeks or so before school starts, so it all feels pretty normal when school is in session. Starting everything new all at once can feel overwhelming.
Juggling the family routine
With looser days in the summer, meal planning may be looser, too. When you start transitioning sleep routines, transition meal planning as well. Think about when bag lunches will be made and factor that into your school year routines. What about extra-curricular activities? How might those impact the family routine - and homework time? Identify and plan for all these elements of the school year as much as possible and start brainstorming solutions and routines early.
Of course, surprises happen, and you can never know every adjustment that will happen when school starts, but planning ahead and making adjustments early can help the transition to this school year be the smoothest ever.
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