21 Days to Form a Habit
That’s right. School starts in roughly 3 weeks (for my kiddos, at least). This means I have about 21 days to get them into shape and ready to go! Want to know what this means? Cutting back on tv time. Maybe get them back in the habit of setting out clothes weekly. There are a hand full of things we’ll be doing to get the kids into “Back to School” mode.
1. Reduce Screen Time
In today’s day and age, a larger number of children have their own electronic devices. If they don’t have their own, they most likely have easy access to one belonging to a family member.
Tablets and television are convenient when it comes to keeping kids entertained. Because of this, we might get a tad bit too lenient on how much time is being spent on them. I am guilty of this. Personally, I do not have a strict guideline for how often my children are allowed to play on their tablets. I do currently limit how much television they watch.
While a lot of the games my children play are educational, they still have a few games and television shows that are purely for entertainment. Because of this, I do give them longer periods of screen time in the summer. However, since they will be heading back to school in less than a month, I have reduced their screen time to 2 hours.
Why Does it Matter?
“…turning off all electronics 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime will help kids sleep better, for instance.”Managing Your Child’s Screen Time
I decided to go with 2 hours because once school starts they will be busy and have less time in a day to watch television or play on a tablet. They are all involved in after school activities and often do not get home until after 6pm or 7pm. This leaves little room for them to have screen times, especially with a 8:30pm bedtime.
An article from Parenting.com suggests, “…turning off all electronics 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime will help kids sleep better.” I tried this an it really does help. My oldest has a hard time getting to sleep at night, so we often times trade out screen time for a quite time with a candle and some meditating music.
2. Academic Workbooks
“Listen, I get it.” I find myself telling my kids this all the time. They figure, “I’m not in school yet, so why do I have to do this stupid workbook?” Well, I remember having a major case of CRS when I was younger and I know for a fact my kids get it too.
Doing academic projects throughout the summer is always the way to go, and I’m extremely fortunate that my district offers some really nice programs for the kiddos. But, getting them ready to go back to school, I like to give them workbooks. I find that it helps refresh those little minds on some things they learned the year before and maybe give them a leg up when they do go to back school.
Adding workbooks to their end of summer routine also gets them back in gear with concentrating and focusing on assignments for when it’s time to get to work at school or when they have homework.
3. Phase out Naps and Additional Snack Times, Prep for After School Snacks
My kids love to test my limits and get a little out of control with the snacks during the summer. I do not mind letting them indulge with an extra snack or two, but this is not a luxury they will have once school is back in session.
To get their little tummies ready for a full day of learning, they will get one snack during the day and one in the late afternoon. This is especially important for me to do because one of my sons has an extreme appetite and could make eating a full time job.
Doing this will help them learn the importance of getting up earlier to eat breakfast, so they wont be as hungry during the day. It’s also an incentive for planning ahead for after school snacks to look forward to when they get home.
4. Go to Bed Earlier
We have to have a solid bedtime around our house. It’s funny, because I remember the first question the kids asked on the last day of school. “Can we stay up late tonight?” I wish you all could see how big my eyes got.
Of course, them staying up later means more fires (not literally, lol) and fights I’d have to put out. So, no, I’m not the biggest fan of late or no bed times. Fast forward to today, as I am writing this post and the excitement within me.
I stood tall and proud as I made the announcement over the weekend on the reinforced bedtime of 8:30pm. I remind them why it’s important for them to get a full night’s rest and how much easier it will be for them when school starts.
Remember, it takes 21 days to form a habit. All summer they have been running wild with late bedtimes, and I need them to get into a solid bedtime routine before school starts, not the night of.
5. Plan Outfits Weekly
Planning and preparing is key. Establishing an early bedtime is not the only way to plan ahead and make your school morning easy. Planning out clothing option on a weekly basis is also another way to reduce chaos.
Some of you over achieving parents (can you tell I’m jealous lol) may still continue to plan outfits throughout the summer. But for those of us who don’t, it’s time to start back up!
We like to plan our outfits on Sunday for the entire week. It saves us so much time and stress when it comes to getting ready. We also have a cubby for all four kiddos where they can organize their outfits for the week.
Get the ball rolling now so you can be well settled into your routine on the first day of school!
6. Creating a Solid Morning Routine
Having a morning routine is crucial for my household. It helps things run smoothly and get’s the kids to school on time. The last thing I want my kids to experience is stressful mornings. I am a firm believer in the way you start your morning can affect your entire day.
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Before we had a solid routine, we all used to run around the house like mad people. It used to break my hear to see my kids dealing with that kind of stress. My goal as a parent is to help them form healthy habits and staring the day off on the right foot is on of them.
Tip: Creating a chart has helped me get my kids together so they can know what they should be doing when they first wake up. If I’m feeling nice, I will make a game or contest out of it and offer prizes as an added incentive.
7. Involve Kids in “Back to School” Shopping Trip
Kids want to feel important and in control too. That a healthy part of life. I find that when I include my kid in the decision making, they are more interested and excited about the task at hand.
Let “Back to School” shopping be one of those instances for your family. This could be allowing them to pick our a few outfits, their book bag or lunch box, a pair of shoes, or simply grabbing the school supplies to put in the cart. A lot of times it’s those little tasks that parents view as small and mundane that make our children feel on top of the world.
This year, I opted to participate in the PTO Fundraiser where supplies are bagged up and you simply pick them up at the school meet and greet. Whew. You have know idea how BLESSED I am to be afforded such luxury.
Instead of collecting supplies, I am letting my kids participate in picking out book bags, a few clothing items, and making our after school snack “menu”.
8. Organize a Work Station for Homework and School Related Projects
My kiddos already know, as soon as they hit the door when they get home, they need to do their homework. It’s so much easier to just get it out of the way while their brains are still in “School mode” and it also gives me time to finish up dinner, if they don’t need too much help.
I know it’s hard for me to focus on my work when I don’t have a clean and organized area. In preparation for school, I decided to put together a little homework nook for the kids. It’s and area where most of their supplies will be set up and ready to go for them when they get home.
9. Reflect on What Did and Didn’t Work Last Year
Reflection is key for growth. Applying this to your previous year and brainstorm what changes you might need to make to make this year run smoother for both you and your kids.
Our family has had to make several adjustments over the year and thankfully things get better each time. Life is a learning lesson and things are a process. Don’t expect things to run smoothly at first. If it does, good for you, but it’s also ok if it doesn’t. That just means you need to review what you did and what could you do differently to make it better.
I remember being nervous about my kids taking the bus, so I would drop them off every day. Since we didn’t have a morning routing in place, things were hectic and they were getting to school 5 minutes late often. I didn’t like the feeling of seeing those tardy days on their report card. I also didn’t want to set unhealthy habits of “rushing” with them. So I knew we needed to make some adjustments.
We started our morning routine and also starting using the bus stop. It’s closer to our home than the school and guarantees them getting to school on time. It definitely took some adjusting for me, but I’m glad we made the decision for our family.
10. Give them a Gift on the First Day
It’s a celebration! Go into this new school year in good spirits. You don’t have to have a full blown party, go buy balloons or invite you entire neighborhood over. Do whatever fits your family’s lifestyle. For us, we are letting the kids pick dinner and are inviting our parents over. Yes, we will also be having a few desert items so the kids can go a little crazy.