Motivational Monday: Back to school routines

The Morning Show


Summer days can be long and filled with fun. But as the days get shorter and the months roll by, it all-too-soon will again be time for our children to return to a more demanding school routine. R.J. & Staci Mcnicholl from The Rock Counseling group join us for Motivational Monday.

Preparing your children to go back to school after summer break can affect a variety of behaviors that become habits during the summer.. But, it’s important to plan ahead and work to get kids back to their school-year schedule before school starts. Easing back into the routine can make the adjustment less stressful for the whole family.

An important factor is sleep. Getting kids back on track with sleeping habits is important to avoid grogginess and lack of focus during the school day. 

  • Allow time for change – Start bedtime adjustment about 1-2 weeks before the first day of school. Plan bedtime a bit earlier each night and adjust for an earlier wake-up time each morning until you get back to your school-year routine.
  • Dark and quiet – Create a sleeping environment for your child that is dark and peaceful. Keep radios, TVs and other electronic devices out of their bedrooms to avoid temptation and interference with sleep.
Staci: Just as equally important is Nutrition and reducing screen time
  • Encourage nutritious choices – Make sure your kids avoid big meals, sugary snacks and caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine especially should be avoided for at least six hours before bedtime so it doesn’t interrupt sleep patterns. 
  • Limit screen time – Cut back on the amount of time your children spend watching TV, playing video games, using the computer or a table, texting friends and surfing social media on a smart device, especially just before bed.
  • Start “quiet time” – Between vacations, summer sports and just taking advantage of the longer days, summertime can get kids revved up to be on the move. Create some time for kids to wind down and relax at the end of the day, which could include bath time or story time for younger children or reading on their own for older children.
  • Stay consistent – Once you start changing your bedtime/waking time routine, don’t skip days. 
RJ: No matter how old your kids are they can experience first day jitters. Suggestions to help reduce this anxiety: 
  • A specific ritual may ease the goodbye process. A special hug or shared goodbye phrase may be helpful.
  • Leave plenty of time in the morning for breakfast and getting dressed.
  • Prepare as much as possible the day before. Discuss lunch choices and what the child plans to wear to avoid Game Day stress.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep. 
  • Sending your child with a token, such as a family photo, special bracelet or pocket trinket, may do the trick.
  • Avoid lengthy emotional goodbyes and keep the routine simple and structured.

Staci: Conquering first day jitters for older kids

Parents should encourage kids to talk to other older children who have been through the experience, taking care to be sure they are children who have had a good experience.  Practicing with the lock for their locker ahead of time and getting together with a few friends who will be in the class can also be a benefit. 

Parents can share their own stories which may also help children relax and it’s important stress to them that the first day is just the start of a great year rather than a distinct event. It can also help to highlight the privileges the new grade brings, such as special trips or access to the ‘upperclassman’ playground, which can also help ease some of their stress. 

RJ: Be Aware of over-scheduling your family it can have a negative effect on your relationship with your partner. 

It is common for parents to allocate many of the family’s financial resources to their children’s interests and activities. After living- costs and sports and class-related expenses, there isn’t much left for other pursuits. Dates and couples’ time are a thing of the past.

This lack of focus on the couple relationship is a recipe for disaster: Partners who are always on the run are immensely stressed. They are fatigued and ill tempered. They have no patience. Because they are so fatigued and are just keeping up, they can quickly turn to angry exchanges, explosions, distancing, and eventually even dissolution of the relationship. 

Staci: The antidote: slow down–literally. Couples need down time and time alone.

Couples’ time is critical for busy parents.  Running in circles isn’t good for anyone because it hinders intimacy. Spouses need one on one time to get to know one another–away and apart from how they interact and relate as parents.

So what about all those after school activities? Well-intentioned parents might actually be doing their children a disservice by hindering the development of bonding and by interfering with opportunities for building spontaneous and intimate relationships. What kids really need–more than extra violin lessons or additional private coaching sessions–is family time with parents who are connected and able to relate to their children, and to one another.


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