I remember very vividly as a child myself the dreading of the first day of school. The going to bed when it’s still light out. Hearing the other neighborhood kids still outside playing. Why can’t I be out there too? It’s not fair. But there were no ifs and or buts about it, school was beginning and we had to get up early the next day.
And now here I am, mom and doing the exact same thing to my kids. Having done this whole back to school thing for the past 8+ years I can tell you there is a secret to making things go smoother that first day of school.
Earlier Bedtimes Now
Don’t wait until they are going back to school to start getting them used to the earlier bedtime, start it early. I tend to wait until two weeks before school starts to push the bed time a little earlier each night. Ten minutes earlier a night. Then it doesn’t come as such a shock.
Although, that night before the first day of school still tends to be an anxious one. The uncertainty of a new classroom teacher and unsure who exactly is going to be in your class. The bus and just everything tends to build and the kids have a hard time falling asleep. But at least everyone has resigned themselves to that earlier bed time and they understand it’s coming.
Of course the earlier they go to bed, naturally the earlier they are going to wake up. This is where my younger children come in handy for my older ones. They are waking up earlier and they are going and waking up their sisters. Because lets face it teens sleep a lot. I’m still having to wake them up, but the little ones have been getting up on their own. Not early enough for back to school time, but I’m not quite ready to let go of the sleeping in a little. Plus I’m not entirely sure yet what time everyone has to be out the door, as we don’t have bus schedules yet. I have an idea, but nothing exact yet.
Prepare Everything In Advance
You know all of those school supplies you have spent the summer stocking up on? Well, don’t wait until the night before the first day of school to get everything together. Nothing says late to bed like staying up to get everyone’s things labeled and packed for the first day.
Start a few days before school starts. Depending on how many school aged kids you have that is. Also depending on how much labeling your kids can do themselves. It goes much faster with multiple children if you let the ones who can write their name label things too. But DO NOT let them wait until the night before the first day of school. This will just be an excuse to stay up later. Or you’ll be up late into the night doing it.
So a few nights before school starts everyone sits down and labels together. And then pack it all up and put it by the door, or wherever you have all of the school stuff so it’s ready to go out the door. Trust me, this will make the night before school starts go much smoother. And of course getting out the door will go smoother too in the morning.
Have A Dry Run
Once you have figured out when you have to be out the door practice it. Make sure you can get everyone up, dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, face washed, and out the door. Make sure you are able to get to the bus stop in plenty of time or to the school if you drop off.
Knowing exactly how long it’s going to take you is important. And you might want to allow a little extra time if you live in a climate that gets cold for bundling up. I know here when we start school it’s still warm out, but it quickly gets to coat weather and of course much of the school year is spent having to bundle up to get out the door. So allow for that extra time in your schedule for getting out the door. If on the first day of school you’re sitting around for a few minutes before you have to leave that’s fine. Gives everyone a chance to relax and decompress. Plus, go ahead and try to institute an earlier wake up time a few weeks into the school year. It’s not going to go over too well.
The first day of school you’ll want that extra time anyways for pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. At least that’s me. Oh wait turn and look at the camera and say 5th grade as you’re walking out the door. Give me a wave as you’re walking down the stairs. Yes, I am that mom, grabbing every photo op I can. Memorializing every second of their 1st day of school. And yes I have a good cry that first day after I send them off comparing last years first day of school pictures to this year. Oh look how they’ve grown. My babies are all growing up so fast.
The key to all of this is easing everyone into things. Ease them into an earlier bedtime. Ease them into an earlier wake up. Ease them into the daily morning routine. Spending months coming and going on whims is hard to turn around and it needs to be done slowly and gently. And with as little fuss and muss for mom.
Trust me, I have been perfecting this routine over the years of getting back into the swing of things for back to school. Now everyone wakes up on the first day of school, gets everything together and out the door without a problem. It does get harder as the year goes on, but that’s to be expected. There are mornings I just don’t want to get out of bed too and sometimes it’s my fault we’re running behind schedule. Such is life.
How do you get the kids ready to go back to school?
Be sure to come back tomorrow to read about snacks and lunch for back to school. There’s more to come all week long in my Back To School Guide too.