Maybe you started with a healthy routine a few weeks before the start of school to get your kids prepared or maybe you will start on the first day of school by getting your kids acclimated using the cold turkey approach: Either way, the important thing to remember is that being back in school means continuing with good habits and healthy routines.
Consistency is key!
Kids will adjust eventually, as long as you continue to consistently implement good habits as the school year progresses. Routines are so important! There is the after-school and morning routine, an organized approach to homework and an appropriate bedtime. Your kids will continue to thrive as you head further into fall as long as you keep these routines consistent.
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After School Routine and an Early Bedtime
If you have determined an after-school routine that works for your family, keep it consistent as your kids get re-acclimatized to being back at school. Have your kids pull out their homework and make a plan on when it will be completed to avoid a mad rush before bedtime. Make sure to build in some down time to give them a chance to decompress from the day. Your child will most likely come home starving. Rather than putting dinner off until later, we recommend serving a healthy meal as early as possible. You can give them a small snack before bed if you’re concerned they may be hungry. An earlier dinner is healthier, as the digestive system slows down the closer you get to bedtime. And you don’t want tummy issues to interfere with bedtime. If sitting down as an entire family is important to you, reserve this for the weekend until your kids are acclimated.
If your child is starting kindergarten or in a younger grade, they may come home exhausted after a full day. Should you let them nap after school? We recommend that you compensate with an earlier bedtime instead as they adjust for the first few months. You can focus on quiet time or even napping to catch up on the weekends. Just remember that an earlier bedtime is the key to help them keep their energy up during their very busy school day.
Morning Routine and Daycare
Mornings can be a challenge for families who need to wake up way earlier than they did in the summer. Continue implementing the routine you have established and make sure to allow for extra time in the first few weeks as you work out the kinks. No one ever said: “Wow, we have way too much time this morning”. This also allows your child to leave the house feeling calm and ready for the day. A chaotic morning can throw them off mentally and can make adjusting harder. Make sure your child has plenty of time to eat a hearty and healthy breakfast to get their body and brain fueled up for the day.
For working parents who have to get their kids to daycare early, your number one defense is a bedtime as early as possible. You cannot control what time you need to be at work, but you can control an appropriate bedtime for your child. Pre-plan your dinners so that you can get the kids fed quickly and consider nixing the bath if it means they can get to bed earlier. There’s always baby wipes:)
How to help your children with back-in-school anxiety
I think by now, you’ve caught on to the theme of this blog: For your kids to be successful in adjusting to being back-in-school, continuing with good habits and healthy routines will ensure success. It will also help with any anxiety your child may be experiencing by being in a new classroom with a new teacher and new classmates. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open and discuss any issues they may hold onto from the day. Validate their feelings and talk through how things will get easier with time. This is a perfect time for you to model calm behavior by managing your own stress. The last thing you want to do is project those feelings onto your kids.
For younger children who are possibly dealing with separation anxiety, here are some strategies to help: Explain where you’ll be during the school day (I’ll be in my home office working and thinking about you) and establish the next point of connection (I’ll be waiting at the gate or I’ll be waiting at the bus stop). And the best defense when facing anxiety is humor and fun: Establish a safe and pleasant environment by making your kids laugh and having a dance party! There’s nothing like a dance party to make anyone feel better.
Ease into it
As you continue with good habits and healthy routines, give your kids and yourself time to adjust. We recommend cutting down on extracurriculars, play dates and late outings, near the beginning of the school year. This will help kids and parents to balance the transition. Extra activities can be added back in once the school routine is firmly in place. Above all, be gentle on your children, and yourself, as we hurtle headlong into new schedules and a new season. Try to ease into it where you can, and if you can’t, follow up a long day with a quiet night. Get some rest, breathe deep and take care of each other. This will all become routine soon enough. Just in time for the holidays.