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Back To School Routine For The Whole Family: How To Make It A Smooth Transition

Posted by Kelly Papp on

Most parents would agree that although summer is fun and more care-free around the house, we are more than ready for our little ones to head back to school and get the family back on a semblance of routine. It’s the desire that is the tough part, but the execution – HOW do we do reinforce some back to school routine in a smooth and peaceful manner for both our kids and us parents?

Tips For A Back To School Routine For The Whole Family

Toward the end of summer break, usually around the two-week countdown begins, I like to start talking about our routine and how it’s going to begin again. For myself this year, my five-year-old was starting kindergarten (cue the tears) as well as my eight-year-old entering second grade. This marks a pretty radical shift in our routine from summer as well as last year, since last year I only had one child to get ready for the back to school schedule. Here are some tried and true tips that work well for my family, though of course, as all parents can attest, these work some days and others all normalcy flies out the window. Give these a try or share your strategies below.


With the flexible summer bedtime schedule being anywhere from a couple to a few hours past their usual school bedtime, it definitely wasn’t going to be a “cold turkey “transition. Starting with those last two weeks before school, my husband and I started aiming for bedtime earlier and earlier which meant waking up in the morning for them became earlier as well (no more sleeping in until 8:30/9 a.m. Am I raising teenagers already? Um NO. This helped with their back to school routine which required them to be up and starting their morning by 6:15 am. This is a big adjustment which is why I recommend starting a couple weeks prior to any change, such as implementing a back to school routine. Now the night time routine always changes because not only are we aiming for an earlier bedtime, we are working on a more structured routine that includes bath or shower followed by reading before turning off the lights. This is our school routine but in the recent months has been a little lax because of summer. No shame, kids need to be kids and enjoy their summer break so don’t feel guilty if you’ve skipped on this kind of routine during the summer months.

Morning & Breakfast

Getting them up earlier means a more structured morning routine. Meaning my kids wake up, get dressed for school and then join each other in the kitchen for a hearty and healthy breakfast (like a Peanut Butter Perfect Bar) that will give them the energy to make it until lunchtime. Now we could get into a whole new topic with nutrition here but for more of that please visit my Instagram (@nurturingbodyandmind) where I show lots of healthy meal ideas including those breakfasts of champions my kiddos often request, as well as kids lunchbox ideas.

Television Time

When it comes to summer, there may have been a little more TV time or movies that were watched vs during the school year where it was limited. To prepare in decreasing screen time, we start cutting back within a 2-3-week window before the start of school. Do the kids like this per say? NOPE, but it’s necessary to help get them in the mode of finding other things to do to keep them busy. Sure turning on the TV is easy and they enjoy getting comfy on the couch with their blankies and watching their favorite shows or early morning movies when we are home but decreasing their screen time a few weeks before school helps them. This is important because when school starts we have a pretty structured after-school routine which does not involve turning the TV on right when we get home.

After School Specials

We get home from an average school day around 3:30 p.m. My kids attend a school where they wear a uniform, so always the first thing they want to do is change their clothes into something comfier. Next, they have a snack while we discuss their day as well as empty their backpacks and school lunchboxes. We are discussing routines, and this is one they have adapted to very well. If there is homework we choose to do it within 30-45 minutes after getting home from school. This way it is done before we eat dinner and the bedtime routine has begun. Some nights they are allowed to watch a show of their choice to help them wind down before bath or showers.

By being consistent without back to school routine, adapting back into the swing of things has been pretty easy for my household. And that is my biggest piece of advice for anyone trying to bring a routine back into your family’s day — be consistent. Do it every day and be committed to it. That way the kids know what to expect and it becomes the new normal after an abnormal summer break.

I hope some of you are able to gather some tips from my suggestions or at the least take some of them and incorporate them into your own routines or strategies. Remember each child is different and needs different approaches to what can help them with a new routine of any kind, especially with easing back into school.