It seems like everyone has mixed feelings about the start of the school year. It’s a bittersweet transition—you can reclaim some of your free time without your children in tow, but the liberty of relaxed schedules, late nights outside, and soaking in sweet and sweaty moments in the sun is hard to say goodbye to. I sometimes equate the start of the school year to Sunday scaries but on a much more intense level.
Similar to the way that being productive on a Sunday can make Monday morning a little bit more manageable, there are a few things you can do to make the shift from summer to school without too much anxiety for both you and your kiddos. It’s time to sharpen your pencils, dust off your notebooks, and tackle the to-do list below before September rolls around. It’ll be here before you know it.
1. Get them excited for the routine morning tasks
One of the biggest struggles for parents during early mornings is convincing their kids to do the bare necessities like change their clothes, eat breakfast, or brush their teeth. Although these things still continue throughout summer, there are no time constraints so kids don’t feel as pressured to do them. An easy way to get them to cooperate is by letting them pick their school clothes, make a list of breakfast foods they want to eat, and using cool toothbrushes—like the ones from Firefly.
If your kiddo is especially apprehensive to brushing their teeth first thing in the morning, then Firefly has everything you need to make healthy habits fun. Firefly has a lineup of amazing and amusing brushes, rinses, and toothpastes that feature beloved characters like Sonic the Hedgehog. Their electric toothbrushes light up and play music through a waterproof speaker so your littles stay engaged while brushing. It also has a two minute timer and 30-second zone reminders, so they’re guaranteed to get a good brush.
It’s easy for kids to accomplish a typically dreaded task when their favorite character is in the form of a toothbrush. We suggest buying ahead of time and surprising them with it the night before the first day of school so they have an extra little thing to look forward to ahead of the big change.
Battery Powered Toothbrush Kit
This toothbrush uses lights, brush feedback, music, sound effects, and Sonic the Hedgehog for a truly interactive brushing experience.
Best for kids ages 3+
2. Start setting the alarm
You might have blocked out the horrid sound of an alarm and instead allowed the morning to start with a sunrise and the sweet (ish) sounds of screaming kids ready to tackle the day, but now it’s time to reintroduce your old friend.
Instead of aiming for an earlier bedtime, work your way backwards by starting in the morning. The shift doesn’t have to be abrupt—simply wake up earlier and earlier by 10 minutes every few days until you reach a realistic wake-up time for school. This will gradually make an earlier bedtime feasible too, getting you back into a sleep schedule that’s suitable for the months to come.
3. Create a checklist—and remind yourself to check it
We all think we have enough time to get things in order until we check the date and realize school is eight days away. Every mom has that running list of things we need to do before school starts, but it’s easy to forgot to actually do all the things. Set reminders 15, 10, and five days before the first day of school so you’re not stressing the weekend before. Because in that scenario, you’ll likely realize you overlooked a few things when you’re about to leave the house and it’s already too late.
4. Prep to meal prep
During the summer, slower mornings leave room for big breakfast spreads that take way longer than the norm—or full breakfasts are traded in for a quick bowl of cereal after your kid’s late start to the day.
Once classes resume, you’ll have limited time to get breakfast on the table before it’s time to head out the door. However, you still want them to be properly nourished for the long day ahead. Start collecting a list of your family’s favorite quick recipes and easy school lunches, and maybe even create a meal prep calendar to keep nutritious food flowing. You can also prep their school lunches the night before to take that added stress off of your mornings.
5. Set realistic expectations
Just like any transition, change is scary and uncomfortable for everyone. It might take a few weeks to feel completely adjusted.
Talk through concerns with your kids and let them know that whatever they’re feeling is normal and OK. Even though it might be hard to let go of summer, there’s a lot of positivity that comes out of the more routine-based schedule during the school year.
This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated for timeliness.