With some planning, we can transform our back-to-school stressors. As we enter the autumn season, set aside some time to plan how you want your mornings, days and evenings to feel this year, and how you can organize your time and create routines to help achieve less-stressed weekdays. Implementing consistent back-to-school rituals and annual traditions provide kids with the security and stability they need to thrive while reinforcing family bonds.
This is basic advice, but early bedtimes, clothes ready the night before and backpack/permission slips/school necessities packed up by the door help tame a high-tension morning. Being rushed is stressful for kids and adults, so create time and space in the morning for all the things that need to happen, including the inevitable unexpected things like spilled breakfast on clean clothes. Try prepping as much as you can the evening before with lunches sorted, backpacks ready and filled with homework. If you can plan your departure early enough, allowing time and space for your child to arrive at school and settle in without rushing, even better!
Rise and Shine Routine
Set your alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier than you need in order to create some space in the morning for actual connected time with your kids. Some ideas include sitting down to a 15-minute breakfast together, snuggling your kids awake, or spending quality time with your kids before sending them off to school. This routine settles their brains, priming them for an openness to learning, and shoring them up for the challenges that may come their way through the school day.
Everything Has Its Place
Creating a “launch pad,” where all school-related stuff—backpacks, lunch box, library books, lunch money, permission slips, etc.—is stored and prepped. A launch pad can be a box, large basket, laundry basket or any container big enough to house your child’s school items. Put it in a well-traveled area, preferably near the door your child exits and enters going to and from school and minimize morning chaos.
Empower your child to succeed in school by making homework an important part of the day’s structure. Creating a special homework space for kids can help focus attention on the tasks at-hand. Kids simply need a consistent work-space, without distractions that promotes study. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on their progress and if your kids are social media buffs, limit the time spent on electronics during homework time.
After School “Routine”
After a long day of learning, socializing, following rules and paying attention, kids need a bit of time to wind down at the end of the day. Before homework and activities begin, take some time for a snack, a short nap or outdoor play. If your kids are home alone after school, designate a time when they are expected to arrive home from school; require kids to check-in with you or a relative as soon as they get home; specify who is allowed in your home when you are not there; ensure they know what to do in an emergency.
Even as kids grow older, bedtime routines for winding down and preparing to rest are important. Encourage the whole family to go “screen-free” for an hour before bed. If it works with your schedule, consider an early bedtime – research confirms it is a real benefit to all. Sleep benefits no other part of our body better than our brain. It is essential for healthy development. Sleep helps us all process what we learned from the day and organize it. A few suggestions for better sleep are going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (even on the weekends), a cool and quiet bedroom with comfortable sheets, no drinking caffeine after 4:00pm, exercise each day but not within a few hours of bedtime, and bedtime routine (dinner, bath/shower, brushing teeth, reading). Remember it takes the average person a complete hour to go from fully awake to fully asleep. If you do any hour-long bedtime routine pretty much the same way every night, your child’s brain will get the message that it is time to shut down for sleep.
- According to the National Sleep Foundation:
Kids between the ages of three to five require 10 to 13 hours of sleep at night.
- Kids ages six to 13 require 9 to 11 hours of sleep.
- Teens 14 and older require 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night.
Feel the Rhythm
Surprise and spontaneity are not generally well received by most human beings. On the flip side, having a rhythm to your days and your life provides a sense of safety. As you get your routine sorted out, aim for there to be a sort of rhythm that develops over the course of the week that your kids can feel. As they get a sense of how mornings go, how bedtimes go, how Fridays go (i.e. pizza night), how Wednesdays go (i.e. bible study) and so on, you will feel them relax right into that rhythm. Once this happens, the rhythm just carries the schedule forward and life feels a whole lot easier.
You are cordially invited to attend Liberty Classical Academy’s upcoming All Access tour on Wednesday, October 11 at 8:30 a.m. For more information, please contact Debbie Grill at firstname.lastname@example.org