How to Stay Sane During Back-to-School

military kids back to school

The first week that kids are back at school can feel like total chaos as you and your kids try to readjust to a school schedule. But this week doesn’t have to be miserable for you or the kiddos! Check out these awesome ideas for making it easier to get back into the school-year groove.

Work Toward “The Routine”

Start the process of moving bedtimes and wake up times closer to this year’s school schedule now. Make adjustments in 15-minute increments each night and morning so your kids aren’t grouchy monsters on the first day of school.

Get Things Moving

As you move your kids toward waking up at the right time, start to implement the morning routine they’ll follow on school days. No more 2-hour, I-ate-half-my-cereal breakfasts — encourage your child to eat and get dressed in the same amount of time he or she will have in coming weeks. Also, set up an activity that your child needs to do or get to at the same time that school will start each day to get things moving (even if it’s just a trip to the local park).

Implement Family Meetings

If your family doesn’t do family meetings already, now is a great time to start. Set aside time during a meal or downtime each week where everyone in your family has a safe space to share what’s going on in their lives, what they’re thankful for, and what they’re struggling with. Make this a time where the focus is support, rather than reaction (i.e. if your child confesses to doing something wrong, they aren’t immediately punished without discussion and understanding). Model the behaviors and responses you want your kids to have by being open and candid during these sessions.

Teach a Morning Duty

If you really want to help yourself out, spend some time this weekend teaching your child to do at least one duty that helps get him or her out the door. This duty could be anything from packing chips in a baggie to packing up a backpack. The goal is to take even a small item off your to-do list as you herd your kids out the door.

Prep Meal Options Ahead

We aren’t all the “prep meals ahead” kind of people. But at least for this week, be kind to yourself and make the effort to prep lunch items, like washing and putting baby carrots into baggies. Plan either easy breakfasts or prep breakfast items ahead of time because, let’s face it, both you and the kids may be on the struggle bus for the first few mornings. Try to plan simple, fast dinners for this week, as well. The first week of school is full of stress and events, and everyone in your family will be worn out, so small time-savers will make a huge difference.

military kids back to school

Practice the Routes

Try to practice whatever route you’ll take from your house to your child’s classroom door before school starts, especially if it’s a new school. If you plan to drive, practice the route you’ll take to the drop-off line, and then walk your child from the drop-off line to class. If your child will be riding the bus, drive along the bus route, explaining what it will be like the bus, and determine how your child will get from the bus to class. Kids who ride buses will also benefit from knowing what your plan B is if you miss the bus or it doesn’t show up, so be sure to discuss the options. Also be sure to explain what your child should do if you don’t arrive to pick them up on time.

Nighttime Outfit Planning

Have your children choose and lay out their outfits on the night before each school day. That means that before they go to bed they need to find their shoes and socks and every other little item they might frantically search for in the morning. Just trust us, this will save your sanity and your voice.

Get Real About Your Time

Assess your schedule before the first day of school to see how much time you can commit to volunteering. Try to come up with a set number of hours you’re available for and willing to volunteer, and ask about the time commitment involved in each opportunity that comes up, subtracting time for everything you commit to. That way as volunteer opportunities come up (or are required … funny how that happens) you don’t accidentally over-extend yourself.