Tips To Make The Back-To-School Shift Smoother

When my children were younger, I used to count the days to fall, starting back in June, even if they were only going back to 2 or 3 half days of preschool a week! I remember pleading with my calendar, “I’m exhausted from all this togetherness. I need a break!”

Now, summer IS my break, and the imminent school routines and challenges have me begging my calendar again – this time for fall to hold off another month.

After all, fall means:

  • (Because whose children sleep-in on weekends once they’re in the school routine?)
  • Discovering I’m out of some school lunch staple. At 10 p.m.
  • PTA parents (no offense if you’re one of the non-obsessive ones)
  • Cyclic colds and other plagues, from now until next July
  • The spinning-plates life of balancing 4 kids at 3 schools
  • Helping my developmentally-delayed 5th grader’s new teacher understand her IEP

At least that’s what it CAN mean. If I’m not careful. And if I’m not intentionally planning for what I know I want to make better than last year.

“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”W. L. Bateman

If what you’ve always done during back-to-school time hasn’t led to a life you love, here are some ways that can help you press into joy this fall:

  • Shift your schedule early. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to get the family back on the school year routine. In our house, we start a few weeks early, getting up 15-30 minutes earlier each week until we’re waking when we’ll need to during the school year.
  • Create a place for your own school-related papers and materials. For years, I had accordion files for the kids’ work and assignments, but would lose permission slips and other papers I had to return. Setting up an inbox/outbox for me made it easy to stay current with school and classroom papers.
  • Maintain the playfulness. We all love the relaxed playfulness of summer. Planning some regular time for the family to play pumps joy and energy into our families throughout the year. We often will walk to the neighborhood frozen yogurt shop where there are stacks of board games to play. A few hours there refuels us for the assignments and keeps summer’s fun spirit going.
  • Take the “mourn” out of mornings. It’s already hard to get up early each day without mornings being chaotic and tense! Set up breakfast cereal and bowls on the table the night before. Or plan (or even pack) the kids’ school lunches. Have signed papers with your keys and wallet, ready to go. A little planning helps those first daily moments together to be positive and supportive.
  • Maintain balance in your own schedule. We can sabotage our own back-to-school transition when we plan days without space to relax and recharge. Even if the kids ARE back in school during the day, it’s not a mandate that we as moms work every moment they’re there. Take that walk, plan that coffee date with a friend, go see that museum exhibit you’ve wanted to see. Maintain balance in your own time so the school year retains some of summer’s relaxed feel.

What’s your feeling about fall and back-to-school? What helps you and your family with the change of season and routine?

– Laurie

If you liked these tips, can I recommend another resource I think you’ll love? Check out the Confident Mom’s Back To School Survival Guide. I got it today, read through it already and love the ideas Parenting Coach Susan Heid shares in it! (In fact, I love everything she puts together – so much so that I’m now an official affiliate!)

 (Photo Credit)

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  1. Marci | Liberating Choices says

    Laurie, I am so relating to your post, as my kids are young. I start out the summer, excitedly looking forward to slowing down. Except I end up speeding up.

    My youngest is starting Kindergarten. While this is a big change for me, I am embracing all that back to school brings to have more time to myself. I don’t plan on working every day even while they are in school, so I have a day to myself – relax, pamper, connect, and care for me.

    • says

      Ah, the youngest in kindergarten! Mine’s got 2 years left but I can already tell it will be a big change for me. I think I’m empty-nesting early :). Enjoy those pampering and connecting days. May they refresh you and bring a lot of joy!

  2. Kelli Wommack says

    How timely as my youngest started school… TODAY! Love the idea of “maintaining playfulness.” gonna try to do better with that!

    • says

      That’s been such a huge revelation for us, too. It’s so easy to be all-business once the biz of school’s back. On another note…. happy first day of school!!