With only one month left of summer, it’s time to start thinking about back to school! Apart from shopping, slowly modifying your schedule (as a family) day by day should ease the transition to September. Every household has its own rhythm, so while there are no “rules” to help prepare everyone, these suggestions might make leaving summer break behind a little easier.
Gradually Modify Bedtimes
If you’ve been on a true summer vacation where strict bedtimes fall to the wayside, then now’s the perfect time to begin breaking that habit. Have a set time to start their nightly routines and slowly move that forward as we get closer and closer to the school year. The same goes for mornings, too! While children don’t necessarily need to wake up at 6:00 AM during the summer, sleeping until noon everyday will make the back-to-school transition much more difficult. So, while not making a big production about the need to start getting up early, encourage them to wake up earlier with fun incentives. Early morning activities or day trips will get them up and moving, (hopefully) without too much resistance.
Some parents swear that they only need a week to adjust. By going to bed and waking up 10 minutes earlier each day, they can have their family back on track and ready for school! Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for everyone. Some kids need more time to properly acclimate to a regular schedule. Since you have the time now, you can start this process as gradually as you’d like and see how they respond.
Manage Household Anxiety
Returning to school can be stressful, no matter what age you are. We’ve seen parents and students alike worry about what challenges a new school year may bring. However, you can set a good example by staying positive! If you approach the end of summer with any measure of dread, chances are your children will take that and run with it. Instead, try to remind them of all the good things going back to school will entail. Not only will they be able to see their friends on a consistent basis, but they’ll get to have new classes, new teachers, and new experiences!
This optimism will only be effective, though, if it’s authentic. So, be sure to talk to your children about returning to school to assess whether or not they may be experiencing any out of the norm anxiety. Listen to their concerns and do your best to address them. If needed, schedule school visits, whenever possible, to help them learn their way around a new school before the first day. Get them involved in extracurricular activities if they’re worried about making new friends. Most importantly, involve them in your plans! After all, they’re more likely to support an approach to this transition that they had a hand in creating.
Take the Time to Enjoy Summer
Even as you’re preparing for what the rest of the year will bring, it’s important to appreciate the present. Most schools in Maryland won’t even start until after Labor Day, which leaves you plenty of time for more summer fun! Now’s your chance to take that vacation you’ve been putting off. Or leave work a little early on Fridays to spend some one-on-one time with your children. Not only will this help combat any rising anxiety, but also, it’ll teach an important lesson in mindfulness and prioritizing what’s important by example.
Today, it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day planning that it’s easy to miss those little memorable moments. So, before your busy back-to-school schedule fully resumes, it’s important to make time for a walk around the block or taking in a movie mid-afternoon. Allow your children to just enjoy their summer break (as children)—even as you begin to nudge them toward the upcoming transition. Remember, if you begin to feel overwhelmed, you have all the resources at Focal Points Therapy available to you. Just reach out to us when you need help!