Back to school is full of confusing highs and lows, not only for the kids but for us parents as well. The care-free days of the summer, no need for routine, or running out the door first thing in the morning, has been a welcome break from a year compounded by so much juggling and home schooling and cancellation after cancellation. It’s been nice to be able to hop in the car and travel to another part of the country for a staycation or aimlessly wander the pier with the kids and melting ice cream.
But August has rolled around again and it’s not a bad idea to kick start some of those routines and habits we know will help with a smooth transition for back to school. Getting the kids back into a routine when the sun still shines and there’s no where explicit they have to be, isn’t all that easy though. It’s hard on us too because there’s something magical about not having to sort out the lunch boxes and check the uniforms have been ironed. We’ve all settled into the summertime rhythm, and no one wants to shake that up just yet. But needs must!
Those first few weeks in September can throw a few curveballs as we all try to swing back into the normal routine. Getting organised will help to ease back in and if something goes awry at one stage or another, at least you have everything in place to handle it.
Sort out the uniforms a few weeks before hand. Make sure everyone has enough pairs of socks or tights, pants, and vests. And find those lost ties! Stock up the pencil cases, cover the books, and dig out the schoolbags. Being organised saves a lot of stress in the long run.
Get stuck into meal prepping if this has become a little askew with takeouts and meals out taking over your usual dining schedule. Have a few dinners prepped in the freezer for those busy days when they roll around again. And make a list to stock up on those school snacks that were a winner last year.
Get Back to Sleep
When it comes to bedtime, I think it’s safe to say, we’ve all let this slide a little since the school gates closed. It can be one of the hardest routines to pop back into place especially for our younger kids but it’s one that is pretty much a necessity. Luckily, Erica Hargarden, of Babogue Sleep Solutions, has popped over to give us her top five tips for smoothing out their sleeping habits.
1. “Start thinking about adjusting the bedtime back from summertime mode to term time schedule two weeks out from school starting back,” says Erica who recognises the importance of giving our kids the time to adjust.
2. Erica advises scaling bedtime back gradually by 15 mins every two to three days until you have reached the desired school bedtime.
3. “Set a consistent wake-up time and stick to it,” Erica reminds us. I’m sure most of us have noticed a significant shift in when our kids roll out of bed in the morning. “This does mean actively waking a sleeping child however it will assist them in shifting their body clocks back to term time schedule.”
4. “Be consistent again with the bedtime routine. Do this by starting the wind-down one hour before the desired bedtime and avoiding reinforcing constant demands.”
5. With screens possibly being used more frequently throughout the summer, Erica advises we turn off all screens, including TVs, one hour before bed. “Blue light from devices inhibits melatonin production, the sleepy hormone,” she says, “and as such will impact on your child’s ability to settle to sleep easily. Encourage reading, colouring or quiet floor games instead.”
Figure out what your ideal routine is and what it looks like. The perfect routine doesn’t exist, and we shouldn’t try to battle for it either. Getting everyone out the door every morning can be a challenge for the best of us, so when setting your hopes for the school year ahead, make sure they match your family.
This adjustment can be tricky for all of us so set realistic expectations as to how well you can prepare your kids for yet another transition of back to school. Have a chat with the kids and your partner and suss out if everyone is on the same page. If anyone has worries or concerns, talk about them. Help you and your children settle back into the normal school year routine by keeping communication open and letting them know you are there for them.