The sun is setting on the lazy days of summer. While your children have forged fond memories over the past few months, some have also grown accustomed to the laid-back lifestyle that the absence of a consistent schedule brings. Yet, soon it will be time to jump back into the school routine.
Instead of suddenly making that leap the morning the school bus arrives, why not use these last few weeks of summer to strategically and smoothly transition your family to the fall schedule. Easing into the new routine will be easier for you, and it will give your kids' minds and bodies time to adjust to their new "normal." Here are a several tips to try:
Control the clock
If your kiddos are staying up late every night and sleeping in every morning, it may be a shock to their system when the alarm clock heralds that first morning of school. Two weeks before the big day, start sending them to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night and setting their alarm clock a few minutes earlier each day. Aim to have the actual bedtime and wake-up calls in place at least two or three days before classes commence.
Curb the media monsters
Extra time on kids' hands in the summer often translates into more hours spent surfing the Internet, watching TV or listening to music. Initiate tangible limits for your kids' media activity. Again, work your way toward having them abide by those limits by the time school starts.
Evaluate your eating
Summer can be a time of frequent snacking, and junk food can weasel its way into even the most health-conscious parents' pantries. However, brains function best without empty calories. As the summer break comes to a close, start keeping only healthy, nutrient-dense foods in your kitchen, with an intermittent snack thrown in for fun (not the other way around).
Do your kids have enough clothes for school? What new school supplies do you they need? Rather than rushing from store to store the weekend before classes begin, make a list now and start shopping around for the best deals.
If you have the old "but I hate school" issue at your house, brainstorm with your child all the positive points about going back to school: seeing friends, participating in extracurricular activities, learning a favorite subject, getting one year closer to graduation.
Plan a last "hurrah!"
As a family, take one last trip to the beach, jaunt to the amusement park or camping trip in the mountains to squeeze the last bit of summer fun out of the rapidly fading season. At the close of the excursion, spend time in prayer, asking God to bless your family in the journey ahead this school year.
Karen Ehman is the author of The Complete Guide to Getting & Staying Organized.