Surviving Back-to-School: Sanity-Saving Tricks for Parents
Saying goodbye to the easy-breezy lifestyle of summer isn’t easy to do. As summer comes to an end, both parents and children can experience anxiety during the back-to-school transition. Here are a few tricks that can help all family members return to the school year routine.
Reinstate Sleep Schedules
Start the “early to bed, early to rise” sleep schedule at last two weeks before the first day of school. This tip isn’t anything new, but creating the right motivation might be a new trick to consider. Make the transition a fun one by planning some morning field trips to the park, a local breakfast eatery for pancakes or a surprise destination. This will help link the early-morning schedule with something positive.
Create a bathroom schedule for mornings, if sharing is an issue. Freeing up the bathroom can be achieved if bedrooms are utilized for some tasks such as getting dressed, and older children can set up vanity areas in their rooms for makeup and hair.
If attitude is an issue, find ways to interject some fun. Put on some happy music, reward any smiles you see and remember that children can pick up on a parent’s own mood, so try to stay upbeat and cheerful.
Are typical school mornings more chaotic and stressful than you would like? Minimize the morning rush by doing as much preparation as possible the night before.
Ask children to empty out backpacks, re-pack them for the following day and place by the door. This is a great time to review tomorrow’s activities, assignments or events. This discussion will help everyone feel mentally prepared for the next day.
Choose wardrobes for the following day and lay out all items. Prepare lunches, and set the table with breakfast plates and glasses. All of these tasks can be delegated to the children, with supervision as needed.
Load the car the night before with as many items as possible, including sporting equipment, band instruments,and any after-school changes of clothes. Use this technique for yourself, as well.
All children, especially teenagers, need plenty of uninterrupted sleep. Perhaps the most important act a parent can do is to remove all mobile devices from kids' bedrooms one hour before bedtime. While this action may receive some loud protests, it eliminates the impulse to sneak in some extra time texting or playing games instead of sleeping.
Grading the Results
Finally, set aside a few minutes once a week to discuss any changes that may need to be made in order to achieve a smooth, efficient school schedule for everyone involved. Have a round-table discussion with contributions from everyone. Start with the positives — each person can name one thing the family is doing well. Next, discuss what needs improvement and what changes may need to be implemented. Parents and children can achieve positive results when planning and preparation are part of the equation.