If your family looks anything like mine, summer loosens just about every rule and routine that was in place.  Basically, it’s barely contained chaos.  True, your time off might have been a bit more strategic than mine. But whatever your feelings on the end of vacation, the transition can be rough on kids. I’ve thought of a few steps to help them shifted gradually into the norm of school.

Reset the Clock

The clock has lost just about all relevance in our home these last few months. Meals tend to blend into each other so that I can’t really pin down whether we ate lunch or dinner or some blend of the two. Bedtime is so flexible, I’m surprised most days at how late it is when it’s finally quiet. A few weeks before school starts, I gradually reintroduce timing back into the kids’ lives in order to retrain their bodies to be hungry and tired at the appropriate times.

Choose Activities with Care

You know those trips or activities that wear your family out enough to take several days to recover?  Those should be scheduled early in the month. As school closes in, keep things more local and calmer.

Clean Out the Closet

Spring has the reputation for cleaning but the end of summer works well, too. My kids have a vacation wardrobe that seems to consist of pajamas and one outfit they wear over several days! Living out of a suitcase means they tend to forget they actually have drawers with clean clothes in them. Going through their clothes reminds them of all the options available as well as weeds out what they’ve outgrown or just don’t like anymore.

Reconnect with People

Maybe your kids are social butterflies that spend time off developing meaningful relationships. More than likely, they haven’t seen most of their school friends. If they’re old enough, have them arrange a get together, or do it for them. Remembering how much fun their friends are will help your kids slip back into the school “fun.” On the flip side, it might be nice for you to refresh your parent relationships, too!

Gear Up

Can we all agree that there’s something oddly exciting about new office supplies? I try to make things exciting for my kids by letting them decorate their backpacks however they’d like. Then we load them up with new pens, pencils, highlighters, folders, and so on. For the rest of the year, they use stuff already around the house, but that first day, they get the new stuff.

Brainstorm Lunch

Almost universally, moms I talk to hate packing lunches for their children. Try to give yourself a bit of a boost in this area. Spend time brainstorming ideas with the kids that they would like to eat. At least they can look forward to a good meal the first few weeks and you can plan ahead to ease the burden a bit.

Keep Some of the Fun

Plan something the kids will enjoy on the first or second weekend of school. We like to extend the summer by going on dinner picnics the first few Fridays. It reminds us that the fun doesn’t end just because vacation did.

However you transition into the academic year, just make sure to give yourself and your kids a lot of leeway. The switch from full freedom to regulated routine can be rocky for anyone!