Back to School: 7 Simple Ways to Ease the Transition

Back to School: 7 Simple Ways to Ease the Transition

The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

The air is crisping up.

The Halloween merchandise is on full display.

We all know what that means…

It’s August.

If the thought of making the transition out of summer break fills you with dread, you’re not alone.

Back-to-school time is not for the faint of heart. It can be truly stressful.

But, it doesn’t have to be. 

Read on for 7 simple ways you can help your family transition back to school with ease:

1. Create a “reverse bucket list”

Set out a notebook, a whiteboard, or a jar with slips of paper, and invite each member of the household to write down their favorites memories (big and small) from the summer. By cultivating a sense of gratitude for the individual and collective experiences you enjoyed, you’ll be helping smooth the transition to what comes next.

2. Start shifting bedtime(s)

Maybe bedtimes have crept later and later as the summer months have progressed. (Or maybe there are no set bedtimes at all.) As fun as all that flexibility can be during the summertime, without a plan to tighten up the end-of-day routine, the morning wake-ups can be brutal. Start by identifying the gap between the current and ideal bedtime for each member of the household, and then start working backwards gradually over the next month til you get there.

3. Re-structure meals

From parties to day-camp lunches to casual snacking throughout the day, the transition back to school-day mealtimes can be abrupt without some planning. Start bringing more structure to your family’s daily routine by aiming to eat meals (and maybe even snacks) at a relatively set time each day that approximates their school-day schedule of eating.

4. Make space for self-care

The transition out of summer can feel overwhelming and restrictive for some of us, especially those who thrive with lots of open, unstructured free time. Encourage each member of the family to consider what they need to help themselves feel calm, energized, etc. during the transition back to school. No need to go all out… simply round up some favorite books, stuffed animals, essential oils, etc., and create a dedicated space to rest and recharge.

5. Revisit the calendar

Between the academic schedules, extracurricular activities, and social commitments, your family likely has more than enough to fill one calendar! Don’t wait til the first day of school to sit down and get everyone on the same page about how and where your family’s time will be spent this fall. (School-age kids can transfer important dates into their own school planners, and even little ones can learn to track different events and activities using color-coding and stickers.)

6. Prepare the environment

How can you prepare your physical spaces at home to support a smooth transition back to school? Is there a dedicated “drop zone” for shoes, bags, and paperwork? Does each member of the family have a clean surface to work on? Are there clothes or other items in the bedroom that can be cleared and donated to make morning and bedtime routines less stressful?

7. Plan the first week back

The transition back to school can be exciting! And with that excitement often comes a tendency to overdo the festivities. Resist the urge to mark each and every back-to-school moment with a celebration. More often than not, kids (and parents) feel somewhat drained by the end of the first week (or first day!) of school. So, pick 1 or 2 ways to celebrate the transition (e.g., pizza and a movie at home on Friday night) and focus the rest of your energy on resting. You made it!

Enjoy this post? You might also like:

How to Practice Gratitude When You’re Not Feeling Particularly Grateful
Self-Compassion: 4 Ways to Start Practicing It Today
Your Emotional Wellness: 50+ Ways to Support It

Need some support with the back-to-school transition?