10 Tips to Ease the Back-to-School Transition for Parents

With the kids heading back to school in August, the back-to-school season is upon us. Whether you’re helping your children pack their bags or preparing to drive them to school, this can be a stressful time of year with lots of logistics to take care of and emotions to manage. Instead of just managing your chores and work schedule, you also have to make sure your child is where they need to be, fed, and prepared - and don’t forget the homework gets done! Here are 10 tips to help you make this transition as smooth as possible for both you and your kids.

1) Manage Expectations
Kids need to understand what behavior is acceptable at school and how it's different from at home. If you know your child has trouble with talking out of turn, practice raising hands and waiting for your turn to talk in conversations at home. It's also a good idea to lay out expectations for behavior before going into school; let your kids know they'll be expected to turn in homework on time, complete class assignments, and so on. You might even give them some leeway; while they'll need to follow school rules, there will likely be allowances or other incentives. Clearly communicating your expectations before heading into school will ensure everything goes smoothly once classes begin. But make sure these expectations are conveyed with a positive, encouraging tone, rather than a demanding or threatening one. Also, support your child in ensuring these are met! 

2) Help with Homework
One of your most important tasks as a parent is helping your children succeed in school. You may not be able to help with homework (or you might not feel qualified), but you can still offer support. Homework help and encouragement shouldn't just come from teachers; encourage your children to ask questions and seek out extra assistance when they need it. Your children will feel more comfortable around their teacher, which will help them become more focused and engaged in their work. Help your children develop study habits now because it will make high school easier, too! Also, if your students are younger - stay current on what assignments are due so you know when something's coming up that requires your help.

3) Don’t Let Screens Interrupt Dinner Time
If you feel like you have little control over their use of technology while they’re at school (which is especially important), then your best bet is to ban all electronic devices at dinner time. This will just put aside a bit of time during the day for your young ones to get a break from their screens and be present. Plus, you can bond as a family, talk about everyone’s day, and enjoy the meal. The more quality time you spend with your kids in person, including sharing meals together, the stronger your relationships will be and your children will build a greater bond with you. Plus, sitting side by side during dinner makes kids more likely to try new foods, and paying attention to what you’re eating can help support healthy eating habits.

4) Make Morning Routine Fun
If your child is old enough, try setting aside some time each night or weekend before school starts to plan out a fun back-to-school morning routine. Just ten minutes devoted to doing something together that’s enjoyable - reading a book in bed, listening to music while eating breakfast, making silly faces at each other - can boost your family’s mood and yours and make everyone excited about getting back into a normal routine. And if you can’t find ten minutes during your usual weekday mornings? Give yourself a bit of extra wiggle room by moving up bedtime by 10 minutes one night!

Another example could be spending 10 minutes each morning or evening writing what you are thankful for that day in a gratitude journal. Each family member can have their own journal and choose to chair some of the things from their list. This leads us to our next tip.

5) Give Opportunities for Gratitude
Whether it’s your kids or yourself, gratitude is a great habit that anyone can develop. Teach your kids (or yourself) to count their blessings each night before bed and then come up with three specific things that happened that day for which they are grateful. Feeling gratitude on a daily basis will help make you feel happier, and more appreciative of what you have, and lead to increased happiness overall. It’s not only good for your psyche, but it makes you healthier too! Studies show that individuals who practice gratitude report better physical health as well as lower levels of depression. Also, remember to be thankful for things out of your control too; working at making peace with what it is an important aspect of living a happy life!

Hence, even if a day at school does not go well or it gets hectic, you will have carved out these few minutes of positivity and gratitude to cherish together and recoup.

6) Curb Technology at Bedtime
Kids are wired differently than we were at their age, that much is obvious. But while you might think they need technology to survive (and thrive) in today's world, sleep experts say your little ones actually need quality time away from tech. Studies have shown that bedtime use of TV, smartphones, and tablets negatively affects kids' sleep quality, so set some limits and make a plan that works best for your family. Experts recommend keeping tech out of kids' bedrooms (at least until they're old enough to be on their own at night). And once everyone is finally asleep, stick with a consistent bedtime routine - whether it's brushing teeth, reading a book, or listening to music. The important thing is knowing what works for your family.

7) Promote Good Sleep Habits
It’s never too early to start practicing good sleep habits for kids. Take some time to figure out what works best for your child, and make bedtime a consistent part of their routine. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. A regular routine with an early bedtime is also a good way for kids and parents alike to ease into back-to-school mode. When you set aside time each night where you both get ready for bed, read together, talk about your day, and so on - it will help put everyone in a more relaxed mindset when it comes time for lights out.

8) Keep Exercise Regular
Encourage your kids to spend time outside and exercise during their free time. By getting them out and moving, they will be more likely to do so while they are in school. Exercising not only helps improve physical fitness but it also has positive mental effects such as decreasing anxiety, stress, and depression. If you can teach your children to enjoy exercise at a young age, it will help improve their overall health later in life when making an effort is even harder. For example, exercising just 30 minutes on most days of the week has been shown to dramatically increase the quality of life.

Plus, exercise can be fun: a game of soccer, swimming in the pool, Just Dance on the tv, jumping on a trampoline, and so on.

9) Explore Together
Instead of worrying about how your kids will handle their new responsibilities, stress levels, and independence, let them help you explore what's new. Whether it's your neighborhood or a new school and friends, kids thrive on being involved in decisions that affect them. Get your kids' input on school schedules, friends, and even favorite foods. When you’re involved in these choices with your kids, they’ll feel like they have some control over their world during an otherwise chaotic time - and they may also be more open to trying new things. You'll also get a firsthand look at how well prepared your child is for each stage of his or her educational journey. For example: Are there any extracurricular activities he or she may want to consider joining? Any clubs and organizations? These will help develop your child and their passions. 

10) Meal Prep
The less you have to think about, plan, and prepare meals when it comes time to eat during the back-to-school season, the better. In fact, there’s no reason why meal prep can’t happen in late summer and early fall so that when your child returns home after their first day of school you can simply reheat a homemade meal versus resorting to frozen dinners or takeout. It will be one less thing for you and your family to worry about as everyone re-adjusts from long days at work or school. Another reason is that grocery shopping is so much easier when everything on your list is spelled out in advance.

11) Bonus - Clean your home! 
One last tip - a clean home is a great way to start off the school year and add some routine to your semester. Whether you schedule weekly, biweekly, or monthly cleanings - or just once in a while - it will help you focus on what matters most!

Sponge & Sparkle values consistent, quality service and trustworthy business practices. You can have peace of mind that your home will be well taken care of with us. Contact us today at (404) 633-9652 to sparkle up your family’s living space. Our cleaners will leave it dazzling! You will also feel dazzled after knowing you and your loved ones are set up for success this school year.

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About the Author

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

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