Summer vacation is all about long days by the pool or hanging with your kids at the playground, taking it easy and having fun, but it comes to an end all too soon. Returning to school-time routines can be jarring for parents and kids alike. A few simple steps taken during the weeks leading up to the return to the classroom can go a long way toward making the transition smoother for the whole family.
Here are a few ways you can ease gradually into a more structured schedule so everyone can get back into the swing of things once school starts.
Have Fun Shopping (Really!)
Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. You can get the task done in plenty of time and make it fun, getting the kids involved. Have each child look at the school supply list for their class and make an inventory of items they already have that are still in good condition. This will help reduce the number of new supplies you have to buy.
Let older kids who are Internet-savvy help research the best deals for the remaining supplies. Point them toward price comparison sites (here’s one) where they can scout out the most competitive prices and let them help you find coupons to bring costs down even more. Help your kids sharpen their math and budgeting skills by sorting bills and coins that match the estimated cost for all the items on your list.
Then, pack them all up and head out to shop! Let the kids take turns being in charge of the shopping list (or give each kid their own list), and make the excursion fun by turning it into a game. You could, for example, use your smart phone to send each child on a timed mission to get five items or to find all the yellow objects on the list. Before you check out, allow kids to choose a few special items that reflect their personal tastes and interests.
Adjust Sleep Schedules
A regular sleep schedule with sufficient rest will make school day mornings easier on everyone, so getting the family’s bedtime and wake-up routines back on track should be a top priority.
Put the kids to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night and set an alarm to go off a bit earlier each day until going to bed at the optimal time becomes an established habit. Overtired parents don’t function at their best, so be sure to prioritize your own sleep time as well.
Kids’ retention of what they learned during the school year can fade after long weeks spent out of the classroom. The best way to combat summer learning loss is to make reading and learning activities a part of vacation fun, which you’ve probably done.
But don’t ease off in the final few weeks before school starts! In fact, if you’ve gotten lax about bedtime reading, be sure to incorporate this quality family and learning time back into your evening routine. Take a trip to the library or your local bookstore to stock up on some new titles that will get your kids excited to read before they go to sleep.
Limit Wardrobe Choices
Choosing what to wear in the morning can be a big time suck. It can also be a source of conflict when parents and kids don’t see eye-to-eye on outfit choices. Diminish morning struggles by limiting each family member’s wardrobe selection to a reasonable number of basic items they can mix and match with just a few special pieces that show off their individual personalities.
Get kids into the habit of selecting an outfit the night before, so when morning comes around, the difficult decision is already made. Don’t let them forget to set out socks, shoes, and other accessories, too!
Plan Quick and Tasty Breakfasts
A vital part of starting the day right means eating a breakfast that gives kids and parents the energy they need to keep going through lunchtime and beyond. Serve breakfasts that offer protein, fiber, and “good” fats to keep hunger at bay and maintain energy levels throughout the day.
There are many quick and simple breakfast choices you can prepare before heading out the door. Add half an avocado to a fruit and yogurt smoothie for an easy breakfast that kids will love, mash avocado on a slice of toast and top with an egg, or make breakfast wraps that everyone can grab to go. Taking just a few minutes in the morning to start the day off on the right foot will help your family get back into the flow of school routines in no time.