By Adrian Sparrow
Kids thrive on routines. Going from a summer schedule to the fall school year can be a stressful challenge as bedtime and mornings need to adjust to the new semester. To take the hassle out of busy morning and evening transitions, here are some tips for planning routines ahead of time to help school days go smoothly.
Every child is different, so sit down with each child and determine the best way to help them avoid feeling rushed and still be ready to go each day and night.
Morning, Evening, and Bedtime
Establish a bedtime for kids based on how much sleep they need- preschool kids need 10-13 hours, grade school kids need 9-11 hours, and teens need a little less at 8-10 hours. Set a bedtime and wake-up time, and stick to it- don’t hit the snooze button.
Prepare in advance for the day’s next transition to save time and avoid hurried, last-minute scavenger hunts for missing papers or shoes. Pack backpacks and musical or sports equipment the evening before school. Now is the time to ensure homework is finished and uniform and gym clothes are clean. Check the weather forecast, and set clothes and shoes out for the next morning.
Have a place set aside for homework so your kids can focus when it’s time to study, and there’s a singular space for papers and other school items.
Digital calendars are always at the tip of your finger for easy scheduling. Still, for kids, a physical display they can interact with every day will help them anticipate the routine. Hang a large monthly calendar or chart they can refer to, which can also serve as a tangible family message board. Have kids be proactive in their routines. After they finish a task, ask, “What’s next?” and have them refer to their chart. This can help avoid nagging and frustration and gives the kids responsibility for their actions.
Plan your week’s meals in advance with the kids, including breakfast and lunch. With a list of meals, you know what to get at the grocery store and prep, and the kids know what to expect to eat. For especially busy mornings, include ‘to-go’ items in your pantry like bagels, bananas, or breakfast bars. Prep lunches the night before and line them up in the fridge with beverages, ready to go the next day. For after school, when the kids are inevitably hungry, stock up on healthy snacks like yogurt or fruit that won’t fill them up before dinner.
Acknowledge when kids complete the tasks in their routines and celebrate a job well done. Help kids feel confident and reinforce positive behavior that will help them through the school year.