Parents, it’s that time of year again. Time to take the kids shopping for school clothes, backpacks, notepads, folders, and a multitude of other school related necessities. That’s the fun part, of course!
What’s not so fun is making the transition from long summer days spent running through sprinklers and late nights spent chasing fireflies, to suddenly having to go to bed before the sun sets. And then having to get up early the next morning to get ready for school!
Here are a few tips to help your family start the school year off smoothly and with smiles:
1. Set a Cut-Off Time For Outside Play
Determine and announce an earlier cut-off time for the kids to come inside for the evening. My daughters love to play outside and will do so happily until the sun goes down if I don’t call them in before then. During the school year, at 5:30pm they are required to come inside for the night.
2. Implement School Year Bedtimes
A week or two before the first day of school, begin enforcing earlier bedtimes again. It won’t be easy! What has worked best in our home is to aim for 10 minutes earlier each night until we reach the desired bedtime. I have a 4 year old and an 8 year old. Lights out for our kids is 8pm during the school year (allowing them at least 10 hours of sleep).
3. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Yes, it will still be light outside for a few more weeks. Invest in some room darkening window coverings, or if your kids are a bit older and not prone to getting up through the night, you might try a fun kid-friendly eye mask. My daughter has a cute pink one with a picture of eggs and bacon across the front of it, and she loves to wear it.
4. Offer a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
A warm bath or shower. Set out school clothes for the next morning. Have one-on-one devotional reading time or read a family night time story. Snuggle and talk about the good (and bad) moments of your child’s day. Pray together. Turn on a nightlight. One last potty break. Play soft lullabies. Anything - just do something routine each evening to help signal your child’s brain that it’s time to relax for sleep.
5. Pack Lunches and Backpacks the Night Before
This just helps keep things go more smoothly in those early morning hours when everyone is still slow moving and sleepy. I also like to put my daughter’s backpack and coat together next to the door she’ll be leaving out of so we aren’t hunting around for them when it’s time to catch the bus.
6. Allow Time to Offer a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s a really good idea to make sure your child has healthy brain food and adequate fuel before heading off to learn all day long. Oatmeal and toast, scrambled eggs and fruit, or even yogurt and a cereal bar are all healthy and quick options most kids will gladly eat.
7. Pray For Your Child’s Day
Prayer doesn’t have to be long to be effective or heard. As you’re giving your child a hug and kiss goodbye, grab their hand and say a 30 second prayer for their day. Don’t know what to pray for? Ask them! Or just pray for their safety, their health, their friendships, their teacher… whatever comes to your heart and mind.
As an added bonus, it’s always fun to kick the year off with a fun tradition like mini makeovers for girls and their moms or a dad and son trip to the movies. I also like to treat my kids to ice cream or smoothies after school on the first day.
Now it’s your turn. What has worked best for you and your family? I’d love for you to share in the comments so other readers can benefit as well.
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