Adjusting to a School Routine

Adjusting to school routineSchooool’s (no longer) oouut for the summer! It’s that time of year. Perhaps you’re elated or just not ready. Either way, it’s time to prepare for that old-time routine. For some families who work in education their babes are returning to childcare. For others with school-aged children, the switch back to a school schedule can really affect your littlest ones.

Changes in routine come in a number of ways. If you have to wake your child to take children to the bus stop or drive them to school, that affects their sleep routine. Nap times may also be affected and evening routines. It’s also an adjustment for a young child if brothers, sisters, or parents suddenly go from around all the time to missing for an 8 to 12 hour stretch. My husband is a teacher, and our little boys have a few weeks of adjustment to our “new normal” of the school routine because for several months they get used to dad being home all day, every day.

Routines offer security. You likely know changing your child’s daily routine can cause stress and behavioral challenges. As the routine changes, your child may need to renegotiate boundaries he or she previously had in place. For example, if your toddler was used to wearing pajamas until the late morning during the summer and suddenly must change upon waking, this can cause confusion and potentially result in a power struggle. To help make it through, consider the following:

  • Change your routine slowly. Start a few weeks before school if possible.
  • Do a little bit at a time. If, for example, your toddler will return to childcare, try spending a couple of hours away from him or her regularly in the couple of weeks prior. This is, assuming you have a trusted caregiver you can rely upon.
  • Don’t change what you don’t need to. Just adapt to necessary changes, don’t add in extras. If you say, “no more junk food once summer ends,” perhaps a slow transition here is helpful, too. If sleep, time with siblings, and other parts of the routine are changing, keeping other things consistent can help keep a sense of routine in the midst of adjustment.
  • Talk about the new schedule. If your young one is old enough to remember May, talk about how soon your family will go back to that style of living. If too young, talk about the changes that will happen, like siblings being gone for the day.
  • Try not to make the mornings rushed. Rushing results in heightened expectations (I need x, y, and z done now…) and an increased likelihood of meltdowns. Prepare what you can the night before.
  • Spend quality time in the evenings or weekends to help reinforce your presence that was so much more clearly tangible all day long during the summer. As the first weeks can be taxing on you as a parent also getting used to the new routine, this can also be rejuvenating for you.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Tags: infants, routine, school, siblings, toddlers, working

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