My kids think they're pulling a fast one on me this summer in the fact that they generally don't go to bed until the sun sets. But secretly, I like them staying up so I can partake in being a big kid again. Who doesn't like chasing fireflies, having squirt gun fights and making late evening runs to Carl's just because you can? I'm always bummed when it's back to school time and I have to forego my daily running through the sprinkler so that I'm not known as the "weird mom who runs through the sprinkler without her children."
But as summer winds down and the new school year approaches, it's best to ease back into the back to school routine so that you don't wake up on the big day shoving your kids on a bus in their summertime attire of swimming trunks and swim shirts. Thankfully my kids were blessed with a responsible father so this scenario is less likely to happen. I say less likely because you are reading parenting advice from a woman who revels in the fact that my five-year-old learned the lyrics to Heart's "Barracuda" this summer courtesy of an old school playlist on my iPod. So take everything I say with a grain of salt, but enjoy (and use!) these five important back to school transition tips.
1. Ease on into it
About two weeks before the big day, begin your transition to your back to school schedule. Bedtimes and bedtime routines should begin to be adjusted to what would closely be considered a "school night." Even though it may be light outside, getting kids settled into bed and quietly reading a book will help them begin to get readjusted for the upcoming school year. Wake-up times should closely reflect the time the kids will be waking up to catch the bus or grab a ride to school, or sit down at their homeschool table.
2. Morning Mayhem
Morning can be a time of grumpy children and grumpy adults, especially if your kids were used to sleeping in this summer. Having morning routines can be helpful for curbing this less than enthusiastic attitude. Plan your children's wake up time, so that they are not rushed in the morning. Give them some free time to play with siblings, toys or watch TV. Make sure kids have morning responsibilities so that Mom or Dad aren't stuck running around all morning looking for that lost sock.
3. Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect
To see if you'll be truly ready for the big day, set a goal on getting out of your house around the time your kids will be off to school. Got two elementary school kids? Try to get them dressed, fed and out the door (with lunches) by the time they would leave for school. This might sound easy, but you'll soon discover other factors that can slow down the process (i.e. younger siblings, a needy husband, a dog who refuses to listen.)
4. T'was the Night Before
When the big day approaches (and beyond) try to do as much "school morning prep" the night before to save time in the morning. Besides, you need as much time as you can in the morning to be making that cooked-from-scratch breakfast each day, right? (Pop-tarts anyone?) Organize backpacks, lay out clothes and make lunches ahead of time so that the only thing scrambling at your household in the morning are eggs.
5. Don't Let the Fun Stop
So that kids don't associate back to school with having all the fun of summer abruptly stop, continue having fun when your kids get home from school. The weather is still warm and the sun still sets late, thus allowing time to spend in the great outdoors. So go to the playground, pack a picnic dinner, grab ice cream or take a hike at a park. Playing activities director all summer and then having your kids at school most of the day can be a big adjustment for both parents and kids, so use this fun time to catch up on each other's days.
And if it's warm enough, feel free to run through that sprinkler.
Kerry Pinto lives in Stafford where she daily prepares made-from-scratch breakfasts for her husband and two children. As if...