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Family Files

Ease your way back into school routines

Summertime for kids usually means fewer routines, later nights, and sleeping in more than during the school year. However, there are signs everywhere to show us that school is just around the corner. It is evident by the store ads, the school supplies that are spilling out into the middle aisles of our local stores, and by seeing August on our calendars. With the school year beginning soon, you'll want to make sure both you and your kids are starting to get back into your school time routines.

A great way to ease back into earlier bedtimes is to gradually make that change instead of just starting the school year with a sudden change. Start by making the bedtime progressively earlier by 15 minutes until you are at the desired bedtime. Earlier bedtimes should bring earlier mornings that hopefully won't be as rough if beginning the night before school starts. Work towards well-rested kids for the first day of class.

Sleep is so essential for kids to function well. Having a daily routine signals the brain and body to calm down, knowing that bedtime is coming. For some, it can be a concise routine of prepping for the next day, baths, brushing teeth, and saying goodnight, and for others, it may be a longer routine. Some kids need some designated downtime reading a book or listening to music before the lights go out; others may need some quiet time without any stimuli to settle into a good night's sleep. As children age, routines will evolve and change.

Make sure that you plan enough time in the mornings for kids to get ready for the day and time for breakfast. You may need more time in the beginning in order for everyone to get back into their routines. Once routines are running smoothly, it may not take as much time for everyone to get ready and out of the house.

Give your family time to learn the new routine. When everyone is hurrying around in the morning and time is running short, the stress level of everyone in the house will rise. The goal is to have everyone's morning start smoothly and not in rushed chaos. It is incredible how the start of one's day can affect the rest of the day for better or worse.

For children who are not "morning" people, it would be best to include things into their evening routine to make the morning smoother and less stressful. If they take a long-time choosing clothes or preparing their backpacks and lunch, have these as part of their evening routine to reduce the stress in the morning for everyone.

When thinking about schedules and routines, often, summer schedules get off with later dinners due to longer days (sunlight) or extracurricular activities. Routine mealtimes are another important schedule to try to keep.

There may be an adjustment phase when thinking about changing household routines- bedtimes, wake-up times, mealtimes. Recognizing that change may be challenging, it might be best to talk about the new practices with your kids before you implement them. For those that can read, even write them out so they can see them. It may be a challenge at first, but your family can ease into it if you start early. Use these routines to teach children time management skills. In the end, there will be less stress for you as a parent and, therefore, less stress for the household.