Back to school time can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your work situation, if your kid(s) have stated for the 500th time that they are “boooooooooored”, or one of you just isn’t ready for the crazy schedule to start back up for another year.
By now, you’ve probably read a gazillion articles on how to get kids ready for the first day back to school (that’s 86,430 zeros—let’s get that brain warmed up for the inevitable homework questions, shall we?) What you probably haven’t read is how to get yourself prepared.
Too often we forget that we, too, need a little kick start back into a new routine. According to popular rumor, the average person needs around 7-12 repetitions before they learn something new. By this reasoning, you should be able to get back on a decent school schedule with your kids in about one to two weeks, right? Wrong. You may have also heard that it takes 21 days—another misnomer. Truth be told, it will probably be more likely that you will need a minimum of two months. (This study by Phillippa Lally explains why.)
So, if it is going to take at least two months to get fully back into the swing of things, how can you help yourself survive those first few days back to school? You need to start now, if you haven’t already. That’s for sure.
This article by PBS Parents suggests to do a few things:
- Meet the new teacher as an ice breaker.
- Tour the school (attend the open house.)
- Connect with friends from last year—it works for us just as well as the kids.
- Chat about today’s events and tomorrow’s plans.
- Ease into the routine.
All great tips for the first few nervous/anxious days. For your at-home schedule, however, I’ve listed 5 additional tips to try out:
Get on board with your child’s scheduling tools
Many schools now use some sort of agenda or planner. Match it! Go find a day planner or agenda that you like and sync up with your kids’ every night. Not only will it get you in a good routine, but it teaches your child the importance of utilizing their tools. If you prefer using a smartphone or digital scheduling assistant, simply re-sync based on your planner after they go to bed.
Make sure your routine things are done routinely
Surprisingly, even things you do all the time may get lost in the mix after school starts. Be sure to set alerts or schedule things like when your bills are due, birthdays, workouts, or vehicle maintenance in your planner(s) of choice to ensure you don’t have a dreaded “whoopsie!”
Get estimates on new times or budgeting
With the kids going back to school, you may forget that your gas expenditures are going to go up a bit, your morning routine or errands may run into some extra traffic (literally), or you might discover that you need to get out and about at different times. Do a little reconnaissance! Drive your kids’ bus route or the route you will take them to school on. See how long it takes before school starts, then see what the difference is after school starts. Figure up how much extra time you have on the road going back and forth. Take note of busy times and overly-congested routes. You can also keep a simple log of how many extra miles you drive and how often you are filling up with gas on the new schedule. This will help you keep that all-important budget under control.
Actively figure out your most productive times
Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you exhaustedly “fit-it-in” before you crash and burn for the night? Take note! Keeping a log of when you do things and whether or not you are actually productive during those times can help you maximize your day.
For example, if you don’t see “morning of the living dead” in the mirror, try waking up an extra half-hour or hour before the kids need to be up. Use this time as your “me” time to get in your morning reading list (like us), watch the early news, or take a look at the day’s schedule over a cup of coffee.
When you drop the kids off or they get on the bus, use that time to prepare for the rest of your day. Get in a morning workout to help keep you from pouring yourself back into bed, do some chores, run your errands, or get dinner set up. When the kids get back in a few hours, they are going to need your attention. Don’t let disorganization distract you from learning about their day or helping with homework.
Then, regardless of your maximum productivity time, do the next day’s sync with your kids so they (and you) can be prepared to take it on head-first.
Establish your sleep schedule
Probably more important than anything when back to school time comes is adjusting to a new sleep schedule. If you (and they) got used to staying up until all hours watching movies or playing around, get back into a groove. Choose a day (soon) and start getting up at the time you will normally plan on getting up when school starts. If this proves a little too rough, try getting within about an hour of that time and stairstep down—every three days back up your alarm a half-hour until the big day.
Some additional tips from the folks at the Houston Chronicle are to eliminate caffeinated beverages at least 8 hours before bedtime, keep water by your bedside and drink it first thing upon waking (to rev up the morning metabolism), eat light meals at dinner time, and DVR your favorite shows to watch on your days off. All these help in waking up less fatigued.
Here’s to a great start to a new back to school!
We at Dads Round Table wish you a great back to school. A good education is by far the most important thing we can provide for our children. These tips can help you make the initial transition into the school year a success for you so you can focus on making sure they start out right this year.
Do you have some tips for our other readers that have worked for you? Share them with us!