5 Tips to Get Your Kids Ready for a School Schedule and Routine.
With summer coming to an end it’s important to create a back to school routine that you can slowly ease your family into. Depending on your kids ages and grades, this will look different in every home but no matter what, I believe it’s so key to have a routine.
Summer can mean later bedtimes, loosened schedules and ice pops for lunch… (what? just in my house) and the transition back to structured days, early wake ups, and responsibility can be hard.
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In my home, we are starting the back to school routine transition for my 11 year old stepson (who is with us every other week) and has a 40 minute commute to school each day. For him, this means waking up pretty early (around 5:30 am) and getting homework done in the car or on the way to sports practices.
This year, my 2.5 year old daughter is also starting preschool (eep!!!). She’ll be going to school 3 days a week for 3 hours and it’s most definitely going to be an adjustment. Luckily, my 11 month old still naps 2x a day and, fingers crossed, will keep his 9:30-11:30 nap so that I can have those hours free to work on my blog or do some housework. Her going to school also means moving nap time a bit and only having time to run errands on the days she’s not at school.
With my baby boy turning 1 in September, I also plan to start Tot School with him! We use the incredible curriculum from ABC Jesus Loves Me that lays out a flexible learning schedule that is age appropriate. I’ll be remaking out routines to make sure that me and him get some 1:1 time to do his ‘school activities’ too.
Tips to Help Your Kids Sleep Better
The #1 routine and adjustment that most of us will have to make with our kids is bedtime. Even for my littles, we’re more flexible on bedtime (maybe an hour later if we have an event) because of all of the fun things going on. My stepson is allowed to set his bedtime in the summer and the weekends and typically is in bed by 10:30. (We allowed him to do this because it gave him some responsibility and freedom but we all knew he couldn’t hang that late so it worked out for us!)
Tip #1 Slowly Adjust Bedtime and Wake Up Times
I would start transitioning your kids 2-3 weeks before school goes back in session. You’ll want to start with pushing their bedtimes up a bit. If you start early enough, you don’t need to do anything drastic. Figure out what time they are going to bed now and what time you want to them to go to bed (in our case it’s going from 10:30 in the summer to 9:30 during the school year) and maybe push bedtime up 5 minutes.
Do that for two nights and then push it up 5 minutes more (so 10 minutes altogether). If you are doing a slow transition like this your kids might not even notice, and if they do they probably won’t freak out because ‘it’s only 5 minutes earlier than yesterday!” and you can slowly start to get them ready for their school bedtime.
You can do the exact same system with wake up time. If you’re like us that you most likely don’t wake them up at a certain time (though some mornings he does a camp and has to be up by 8. In this house we are all early birds, so it is rare anyone is still sleeping by 8 am).
Start by waking them up 5 minutes earlier, wait 2 days and then 5 minutes earlier than that. If you give yourself 2-3 weeks before school starts, the transition can be painless!
Tip #2 Lessen the amount of electronic time at night
Before bed tends to be our heaviest tech time. Everyone is pretty burnt out from the day and myself and my husband like to decompress with the kids in front of the TV. I also work at night after the little kids go to bed (normally I work from 8:30 – 10:30 or later) so I tend to be in front of my computer and not setting the best example.
Studies have shown that decreasing your electronic use before bed really does help you sleep better and fall asleep faster! Start to limit the amount of technology that you are all using to help get everyone’s brain ready to sleep.
You can do this by either picking a few days a week where there is no tech from dinner until bedtime or slowly scaffolding back the time like we did with bedtime. Start with no tech 10 minutes before bed and then move to 20 and 30. Ideally if you can have everyone off technology at least 1 hour before bed, you’ll really be setting them up for a good night’s sleep!
So what can you be doing during those few hours?
Find something that tires them out and keeps them active. Go for a family walk or do a workout at home, play a game in the backyard or visit a playground together.
One thing we’ve just started doing is having game or puzzle time after bed. My husband loves puzzles and my toddler is following in his footsteps (she’s already up to doing 54 pieces with a little help!).
Since it takes her a LONG time to finish a puzzle, we can sit together and complete it and she’s forgotten about watching any tv at all! It’s harder to find activities my 11 year old likes so we try to play a game or have that be family reading time. He’s been really into comic books lately so we’re trying to encourage as much reading time as possible and before bed is a great time!
Tip #3 Avoid Sugar and Caffeine Before Bed.
This tip is one that I need to listen to better. I am a coffee addict and probably have my last cup at 5pm. Granted, I’m up until somewhere between 11pm – 12am but still, that 5pm cup doesn’t need to happen. My plan now is to switch that cup to decaf for a while, then go down to a smaller coffee cup, then to herbal tea, and then just eliminate that need for a beverage completely!
You can do the same thing with your kids! If you can have a good 3 hour gap between caffeine and sugar and bedtime, you’ll really be setting everyone up for success.
This means that you need to do an inventory of what everyone is drinking at dinner. We don’t drink soda but, my 11 year old will either have a cup of juice or sparkling water at dinner so it’s time to get rid of the juice completely. You can do a slow transition (have you noticed a theme here with changing habits??) and go from soda to juices to sparkling water to regular water over the remaining weeks of summer.
You should also do the same thing with post dinner snacks. I grew up as a ‘we always have dessert after dinner’ family and I know that is a bad habit that I am working to change as an adult. I’ve been following the 2B Mindset program for 2 months (and down 13 pounds oh yea!) and it’s helped me be ‘dinner and done’. I want this habit for my kids as well so it’s up to me to enforce it.
Start by changing what they are eating for dessert first. If they are snacking on ice cream or cookies an hour before bed, they’ll struggle to fall asleep. You can limit their choices to fruit, veggies and dip, or crackers to start with. After that becomes the ‘new habit’, start to make dessert a ‘few times a week treat’ so that you can help them have healthier habits too.
Remember, if you don’t buy it THEY CAN’T HAVE IT. I work with so many moms who will say things about tantrums and how their kids won’t drink water and I have to gently remind them that they are the parent, they buy the food, and they CAN help shape and change poor eating habits for their family (and themselves).
Don’t try to change everything over night or you’ll have a rebellion on your hands but, decide which habits you want to change (either sweet desserts or dinner time beverages) and do them one at a time. If you don’t make a big deal about it, your kids might not even notice!
Creating a back to school routine doesn’t have to mean that summer fun is all gone or that everyone struggles to wake up when school starts again.
You can create a great routine that helps them get ready for school, without any crazy drastic changes, and sets them (and you!) up for success!
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