Yes, it’s September and the “summer days have drifted away.” The children and teens have had so much fun relaxing, going to summer camps and enjoying family vacations. BUT….it’s time to transition back to school and, most likely, you have already been met with resistance and attitudes as the alarm clock rings loudly throughout the house.

Here are some easy to follow guidelines that may be helpful in continuing to ease your children and teens back into the reality of a new school year:

Ease back into your scheduled routine a week at a time. With daylight savings still in full force, it is still so tempting for children to want to play outside until dark, and teens to want to “hang out” with friends at the mall or movie theatre. Shifting to an early morning routine of catching a school bus or driving the kids to school can be a shock to everyone’s systems. As your children and teens get used to this new schedule again, encourage them to start their bedtime routine 10 minutes early night and wake them up 10 minutes early every morning until it seems that they are back on track.

Stay connected to the memories of summer fun. Just because the kids and teens are going back to school doesn’t mean they have to lose the recent fond memories of summer. Try and plan outdoor after school activities, while the good weather lasts, and use outside play (even a bit after dinner) as a motivating reward for completing homework or getting chores done around the house. When the weather turns colder, think about having an “indoor camping evening” with pillows and blankets, and cook indoor s’mores or make popcorn and watch a movie together. Perhaps your teen would be willing to create a “summer memory picture album and journal” to recap the exciting events of the summer.

Go back to making healthier food choices. We all know that during the summer, the “good” snacks that we all munch on are not always the “healthiest” snacks. The leisure days of summer and the joys of eating ice cream after dinner or going out for a late night pizza may need to take a back seat for awhile. Encourage your kids or teens to swap out the ice cream for a popsicle, frozen yogurt with fresh fruit toppings or fresh strawberries with some natural whipped topping. Especially during homework time, help them find some healthier choices to “munch” on instead of chips or cookies, such as air popped popcorn, frozen grapes or hummus with carrots or celery. Most importantly, be prepared ahead of time with healthy “grab foods” for those hectic mornings when everyone is running late, when kids or teens come home “starving” from school, or when they just can’t wait until dinnertime.

Make time for “special time,” especially as the new school year begins and your child or teen is dealing with a lot of transitions. Although this particular suggestion may seem a bit overwhelming right now, it is very important to take 15 minutes per day, per child or teen, to enjoy a quiet activity together. Whether it is reading a special extra book with your toddler, playing a short board game with your child or sitting out on the porch for a chat with your teen, finding the time to make this “special time” happen will be a fond memory to your child or teen to take to sleep with them. And for you…priceless!

Here’s wishing everyone a smooth “back to school” transition for your children and teens, and a sense of peace and calmness for parents as you send them off to begin this new school year with confidence.

April De Higes, LCSW
Co-Founder, Valencia Relationship Institute

Ellen Bradley-Windell, LCSW
Co-Founder, Valencia Relationship Institute