By Christine Weinzapfel-Hayden, LCSW – July 29, 2022 –
I know you feel it. The new school year is looming. A new school year always comes with a variety of emotions, excitement, nervousness, and dread (Looking at you, common-core math…). One of the hardest things about starting a new school year is settling kids into their school year routine. It seems like it takes 30 seconds to adjust to a lack of routine, but weeks to get back into a structured schedule.
Don’t start the night before school starts and expect to have a successful transition back into routine. The best strategy is to start early. Give yourself three weeks of slowly moving back into routine. Make bedtime a little earlier each night and wake up a little earlier each morning. One week before school starts, consistently have them go to bed at their school year bedtime and wake them up like you would for school in the morning. This will help deter some arguments about earlier bedtimes and help them be prepared for those early mornings when school starts.
It is good to remember that every kid is different, but they all need a healthy amount of sleep. According to Cleveland Clinic, kids ages 5-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep a night, and teens 13-18 should sleep close to 10 hours per night. Making sure you have a consistent bedtime routine can help your child’s body recognize that it is time to settle down and prepare for sleep. This is even true for your older children.
If you feel like your family is always running around in circles in the morning, preparing for your day the night before can be a huge help. Laying out outfits for the next day takes decision making out of your morning routine. Make sure you check their school calendar, so those pesky spirit days do not sneak up on you.
I love the use of a calendar in our kitchen for many reasons. Our district doesn’t send home paper copies, so I write all necessary school events on that and check it each evening before bed. This includes whether my child will need a packed lunch. If you have a picky eater like me, chances are you’re packing a lunch. Depending on the age of your child, this is a fantastic opportunity to help them develop independence by asking them to assist with packing their lunch each night.
The school year can be stressful. The number of events and expectations can be exhausting. Creating a realistic evening and morning routine can be a huge help. Make sure you’re working smarter, not harder, when it comes to routines at home.