During the summer months, we tend to slip away from our routine and let things be a little more casual.  The kids are out of school so there’s no need for structure around that rigid schedule and there’s no homework to look over.  The freedom feels great but then, like most good things, it comes to a sudden end.  Getting back to school and back into the swing of things can be tricky and stressful – but here are some tips for making it a smoother transition.

Organize and Be Consistent

This goes without saying but a little organization and planning can really go a long way.  If you commit to doing the same thing every week, it will become habitual and a lot easier to stick with.  Spend Sunday planning out the family’s lunches and wardrobe selections. Picking out five outfits means not having to spend those hurried morning minutes looking for a missing sick or shirt. Parents who work outside of the home might find it useful to plan their own outfits for the week as well.

Share the Load

When it comes to making a household run smoothly, there are always things that need to get done.  It is important that everyone be assigned age-appropriate chores so that everyone has a role. It not only makes it easier to get things done but is a valuable example of the importance of teamwork.

Make Midweek Meals Simple

We all want to make healthy and tasty meals for our families but if we get a little too overambitious during the week, we may end up calling for take-out in a time crunch.  Be realistic with the amount of time you have to cook and how long it takes to make a meal.  Prepare as much as you can on Sunday nights so that veggies for a stir fry are already cut and the ingredients for pizza dough are already measured.  If you need inspiration, there are many cookbooks and online recipes that can be made in thirty minutes or less.

Prepare the Teacher

If there is something going on at home, it really is important to let your child’s teacher know at the beginning of the year so that they will understand his/her behavior.  Whether they are going through some sort of health or emotional turmoil or a major change is happening (birth or divorce, for example), it is likely that some of this will show up in the classroom.

Talk to Your Kids

Whenever possible, whether it’s at dinner or some other point in the day, make it a priority to ask your kids how the school year is starting for them.  This way, if there are any problems, they can be addressed before they have time to develop into a more serious issue.  Whether it’s bullying, not feeling like a class is the right learning level, or even just lacking supplies, your child will know they have your support and you can come up with a plan for dealing with the obstacle.

Limit Extracurricular Activities

This is a tough one for a lot of families.  Kids (and parents) will often hear about activities or classes they’d like to take but the time requirement can make scheduling really difficult.  If that’s the case, try to limit the number of extracurricular activities to make it more manageable for the family.  Also, connecting with other parents for carpooling can make getting your kids to and from lessons a lot easier.

Quiet Time

We all are guilty of it.  We check our email, texts and Facebook constantly throughout the day and, in the evening, we may even be glued to our phones while we are simultaneously watching television.  This continuous stimulation can make shifting gears at bedtime more difficult.  Why not try unplugging for 30 minutes before bed?  Sure, ignoring a cell phone might be difficult, but try starting with limiting television usage during that last half hour of your day. You may find that you and your family enjoy that time so much that the cell phone could be replaced with a book!

Rest and Have Fun

Life is so busy these days that we tend to neglect our own health.  When schedules get busy, the first thing we tend to sacrifice is sleep which is never a good thing.  Try to make sure everyone is getting the rest that they need since we all function better when we’ve had enough sleep.  When all else fails, though, have fun and enjoy life.  When things get tough, laughter can go a long way.

What other ways do you deal with back to school stress?