In some places, it starts in early August; for others, it doesn’t happen until after Labor Day. But regardless of where you live, school will be back in session in the next 30 days. For a mom, that means lots of shopping lists, packing lunches, and so much more! Even if not all your children are school age, the whole family dynamic changes with back-to-school rituals and routines. So, where do you start? We’ve got a checklist, sure to get you and your family, from the smallest to the tallest, ready for the changes ahead!
Mr. Sandman: As the lovely summer days start to wane, it’s time to get back to a bedtime routine – and that means for everyone. For school-age children, sleep is an incredibly important part of their life and helps to shape their physical and mental health, how well they learn, and even their growth. As a parent, it’s hard reigning kids in from a lackadaisical bedtime to a strict lights-off, so start slowly. Start putting everyone to bed at a reasonable hour, and just as important, begin waking them up in the a.m. so they’re ready for that alarm clock when school starts. Even for your little ones that may not yet be in elementary school – if they need to leave the house when you do, you’ll need to get them into the same routine. The more time you have to practice, the better life will go on that First Day of School.
Nutrition is Key: Summertime is all about hotdogs and hamburgers, homemade ice cream and pizza picnics by the pool. For many families, summer vacations, eating out, family get-togethers and neighborhood cookouts get in the way of home-cooked meals, fruits and veggies and healthy snacking. But, with the advent of school, both your big and little ones need that pick-me-up of a healthy diet. Start incorporating more water and healthy drinks like milk and decreasing juice boxes, sports drinks and sodas. Make sure fruits and vegetables are a part of their snacking routine. And, whether your kids pack or purchase a lunch, make sure you know what they’re eating at school. Finally, even though mornings may be the hardest part of the day, ensure your kids are starting off right with a good breakfast. All of this will start the school year off on the right note!
There’s an App for That: In this case, we’re not talking about apps for your iPhone, but appointments. Yes, it’s that time of year to see the dentist, the pediatrician, the eye doctor and even get a new haircut! However, try to schedule ahead so that your last few days of summer vacation aren’t spent in a waiting room. Your main goal is to ensure your children start school with all the immunizations and records required, and that they are feeling healthy and ready to roll. Preferably straight out of bed and into a big yellow bus!
Give Them Something to Talk About: Start discussing going back to school with your kids, get them engaged and excited about new friends, old friends, fall activities and more. Rather than asking the age-old question of “Are you ready for school to start?” why not insert some positivity into the concept? “Fourth grade is going to be so much fun!” or “What are some of the new things you think you’ll be doing in second grade?” Kids can smell fear, worry or apprehension better than most animals, so if you’re worried, stressed or grumpy, they’ll pick up on it quickly. Be positive, be excited and be ready.
Practice Makes Perfect: After two months of rolling downstairs and hanging out in PJs for two hours, brushing teeth around 10 a.m. and then maybe heading to the pool, your family might be a little rusty on morning routines. So before school starts, implement some basic hygiene routines. Such as – get up, get dressed, hair and teeth brushed before coming downstairs. Or, beds made, laundry in its proper place before you come to breakfast. Every little step helps, so the more you have in place before the First Day of School, the better it’ll be for everyone.
Summer Fun: Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the last few days of summer with some fun activities! Plan some play dates, enjoy the pool, go to the park, or take in an afternoon movie. Don’t save all the errands, chores and running around until the end. Was there something your family wanted to do that maybe didn’t happen this summer? A day-before-school activity that everyone will love? Maybe you can even get Dad to play hooky and join in. As Nike says, “Just do it!”
Back-to-school is inevitable, and for so many families, the return to structure and routine is a good thing. So, take a deep breath and just go day by day. You’ll get there. Just think, Thanksgiving break is only three months away!