By Christine Weinzapfel Hayden, LCSW
You’ve had close to two months with your children living a carefree summer life. You’ve had the opportunity to create new memories with your family. It is probably a little hard to believe these days together are coming to an end so quickly. If you are like me, you might have strayed away from your school-year routine throughout the summer weeks. Now the question is, how do I get that back?
For starters, try not to stress. Start talking to your kids about school; get them excited about the upcoming school year. When you talk about the beginning of the school year, try to sound excited and talk about the new year in positive terms. Also, go back-to-school shopping together. Let your kids have a say in their supplies.
Give yourself time to gradually get settled back into a bedtime routine. If your child’s school year bedtime is 7:30 p.m. but you’ve been letting them stay up until 9 p.m. during the summer, you’re going to need some time to adjust their bedtime. Try pushing their bedtime up 15-30 minutes at a time. You’re also going to want to start waking them earlier in the morning, working towards the time they will need to be awake during the school year. If you have younger children who have gotten into a habit of taking naps during the day, this would also be a good time to start eliminating nap times.
You also might have noticed it seems your grocery bill has gone up significantly during the summer. Part of this is our tendency to graze and allow our children to graze throughout the day. Once school starts, their ability to snack on a whim will be gone. To help make that transition easier for them, it would be a good idea to reel in the snacks. Start getting back into the routine of eating meals at specific times. It seems that morning routines are the hardest at the start of the school year — and sometimes all year. Start practicing your morning routine now. If you’re going to need your child to eat immediately after waking during the school year, start practicing that habit now.
It’s also a good idea to start planning for afterschool activities now. Once school starts, schedules seem to explode. Start figuring out which kids are going to participate in which activities and whose responsibility it will be to get them to and from practices and games. The more you can organize your calendar early, the better you will feel about your schedule later. Hopefully this will help alleviate some stress for you as everyone’s schedules start getting busier.
The start of the school year sneaks up on us every year. Don’t let this be a time of despair for you or your children. Make going back to school fun and start preparing for it early. This will help your new school year start more smoothly and be an enjoyable experience for all.
Christine Weinzapfel Hayden serves as Youth First social worker at Corpus Christi School in Evansville and St. Philip School in Posey County.