It’s time for another year, or maybe your first year, of getting back-to-school ready! Depending on how many children you have and your child’s age, you may have your hands full in preparing for school this year. Whether your little one is going into Kindergarten or not so little anymore and going into their senior year of high school, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you get off to a smooth start for 2016.
One of the best things you can do to prepare your children for the school year is to set up a routine. You can set up morning routines, bedtime routines or both. It takes about two weeks for your body to adjust to a routine, so it’s best to start as soon as possible to prevent waking up to zombies in the morning. The first few days will be a struggle, but being consistent and powering through it will pay off in the long run. The routines can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. It’s all about what works for your family.
A morning routine can be as basic as the classic Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood routine that he sings on his television show: “Clothes on, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes and off to school.” That one is easy because it’s a catchy tune to sing with your child to get them going in the morning, and they’ll have fun going along with it. You could add things like: make the bed, brush your hair, pack your backpack, take out trash, etc. Tweak it however you want to fit your family’s lifestyle.
In the morning time, it can be a game changer to say “If you do x first, then y will happen.” For example, you can say “If you make the bed and/or put on your clothes first, then you can have breakfast and/or TV time.” It gives your child a boost of motivation and helps them feel like that have some control in the situation rather than being told: “Do this, this, this and this because I said so.” The last thing anyone wants to deal with in the morning is a power struggle.
For bedtime, your routine might go something like: TV off, calm play, bath time, pajamas, brush teeth, go potty, read bedtime stories and then lights out. You could add calming music, hugs and kisses, bedtime songs, lavender oil, prayer time, etc. If your child resists any of the routines, it might even help to ask for their help in picking out what activities to do first or last so they can feel they have some control over what happens during that time and may be more willing to cooperate with the entire routine.
Teens and Tweens
If your child is older, this may feel a bit silly to try and implement, so just go with your gut and modify this by age. Teens and tweens may just need a few suggestions from mom or dad. Even sitting down and briefly explaining the importance of having a routine could get them on board. Sleep is not a luxury for any age group. It is a necessity. Not getting enough sleep could greatly affect their learning abilities, mood, creativity, focus, energy and ability to stay awake in class. A great way for older kids to wind down at night is by listening to calm music and journaling or reading a book. Choosing a bed time that cooperates with wake up time is important so that you don’t end up reading until the crack of dawn only to still wake up feeling groggy. For kids this age, if you wake up around 6:00am, you should be in bed between 8:00pm and 10:00pm as terrible as that may sound to some. However, the pros far outweigh the cons.
Onto my most frustrating, but still just as important tip: It is best to continue the routines every single day. Yes, that means weekends. *Cue groaning* I know it sounds terrible. The weekends are reserved for sleeping in, right? Waking up at 6:00am on the weekends sounds utterly impossible. That’s not to mention going to bed between 8:00pm and 10:00pm. Don’t throw the idea completely out, though. Sleeping in on the weekends makes for a tougher week to follow. It’s like pushing the reset button and trying to readjust your body to the routine all over again, and it won’t feel worth it come Monday morning. Routines don’t have to be so miserable, though! Treat yourself and/or your children every weekend you follow through with the routine. Hopefully by the time school starts, everyone will be prepared for the early mornings and evenings until summer comes back around!