Why I Don’t Stress About Getting Back Into A “School Routine”

posted by Andrea | 08/5/2019

I can tell it’s officially August now because my inbox is filled with questions regarding “getting back into a school schedule and routine”. 

Plus everywhere I look online, I see articles promising to get our kids back into a school routine in 3, 5, or 8 simple steps — things like going to bed 15 minutes earlier every day for 2 weeks, picking out clothing the night before, stocking up on portable snacks and drinks, etc. etc. 

They are all great tips and suggestions (many of which I use for my own children throughout the school year). HOWEVER, believe it or not, I am fairly relaxed when it comes to ‘getting back into a routine’ before the school year starts. 

I always feel like I want to stretch out the last few weeks of summer for as long as I can — and if I start prepping for a new routine a week or two before school actually starts, it feels like the last couple weeks of summer just aren’t as fun or as relaxed. 

I know, this might sound ridiculous… but just hear me out! 

In my experience dealing with routines, I have found that the vast majority of times, it is significantly easier, faster, and more intuitive to simply “fall” into a new routine once your new schedule officially starts, versus force a new routine before it’s actually necessary. 

EXAMPLE #1 – Bedtimes:

Once school starts, your children will naturally be tired earlier in the evening simply because they woke up earlier in the morning. I can’t promise bedtime will magically be stress-free, but it will most likely be easier to get them in bed earlier once school starts, versus trying to force an earlier bedtime the last couple weeks of summer when they are full of energy.

Yes, they might have a few days where they are more tired than normal, but then their bodies will adjust and they’ll be sleeping like normal again. 

EXAMPLE #2 – Lunches: 

My children eat SO SLOWLY when they are at home. However, after a couple of days back at school, they quickly learn that in order to finish their lunches before the bell rings, they need to eat a lot faster.

Yes, they might be a bit hungrier the first few days of school, but once their new eating habits are in place, they are just fine again. 

EXAMPLE #3 – Daily Reading / Homework:

I know so many parents who beat themselves up over the fact that their kids don’t do much reading or school work over the summer. 

They worry their kids will forget everything they learned — and while there might be a tiny bit of truth to this, I feel fairly confident that most children will recall what they learned once they get back into a normal school environment.

Plus, I’m guessing a little extra play time can’t hurt a child (especially the younger ones!) 

I realize (as always) this approach will not work for every person or every family — however, I wanted to share it now as I get SO many emails from parents who seem to be fairly stressed out about getting their kiddos back into a “normal school routine” several weeks before schools starts. 

I do understand their reasoning, but I just feel like we could all potentially save a decent amount of stress if we simply enjoyed every last day of summer without worrying about having a perfect school routine in place before school even starts. 

If you want my 3-step plan to get back into a school routine, here it is.

STEP #1: Enjoy your last few days and weeks of summer vacation to the fullest. 

STEP #2: Send your children off to school, potentially a little tired on the first day. 

STEP #3: Watch in wonder as their schedule and routine naturally regulate once the school year begins.

Yes, I AM still a huge advocate for planning ahead whenever possible, but when it comes to preparing for a new routine, there is only so much planning you can do. 

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the last few days of summer! 

You and your children will eventually get back into the swing of things (probably faster than you might think!)

How do you get ready for back-to-school season? 

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19 comments

  1. Michelle Bonk

    08/08/2019

    I do agree with this … mostly!
    I imagine that while your schedule is somewhat more relaxed during the summer Andrea I doubt you’ve given up all routine.
    Some people do though – and I think they’re the ones that run into trouble readjusting to back to school!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, you are probably correct!

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  2. Michelle Bonk

    08/08/2019

    We took our four kids to Disney the last week of August last year (it was the only week they didn’t work at camp) and they came home and started school the next day!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — sounds fun (slightly tiring, but fun!)

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  3. Natalia

    08/05/2019

    You said it exactly how I feel about it! Awesome!

    Honestly, I did stress for while about my 4yo’s naps – she grew out of naps, but I’ve heard they might have some sort of downtime around noon IF the preschool’s schedule changes from 3.5 hrs to 5. Initially, I had the terrifying idea that I need to keep her on the same schedule through the summer and it didn’t work! Then I dropped that off and went with the flow. Much happier family! Who knows, maybe the preschool will still be on a short schedule and I would have tortured ourselves for no reason at all.
    And, even on a long schedule – she might do better conforming with the other kids, in a classroom (when she’s tired), rather than with mom, at home, trying to keep a ridiculous schedule that doesn’t fit our summer days.
    I felt relieved and reassured, reading your post today. Thank you!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad to relieve and reassure you 🙂

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  4. Avia

    08/05/2019

    I love this so much! I read an article someplace early in the summer with the opinion that kids need a stress-free, playful summer much more than they need to “keep up” on reading etc. I immediately agreed and decided I was not going to worry at all about meeting those types of expectations during the summer. I also immediately resonated with your routine philosophy and will not give back to school retinues another thought until after school starts!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, everywhere we turn, we are reading more and more about the importance of PLAY for kids — not so much structure. I love structure and routine, but not for little kids ALL day long!

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  5. JJ

    08/05/2019

    Love this! Kids follow our lead. If we are stressed, it stresses them. I will definitely take your advice and enjoy this time!!! Your perspective is always so refreshing and encouraging!!! You are like the Modern Day Dear Abby!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — more like Dear Andrea 🙂

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    JJ Reply:

    Yes!!!

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  6. Siobhan

    08/05/2019

    Thank you Andrea 🙂 I needed to read this. I’m a mom of 3, a teacher, and I currently have a long commute to work. I have been feeling tense when I think of getting everyone back into the routine, especially since I’m far away from home during the school year.

    You are right, we always get into the routine when we have to, and enjoying each day of summer (while doing some necessary prep work here and there) until it ends is great advice!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome! Enjoy your last few days/weeks of summer and then enjoy school once it starts up again!

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  7. April

    08/05/2019

    Agree 100 percent! Enjoy summer to the very last second!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, yes!

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  8. Meghan

    08/05/2019

    Amen! I fully agree! Plus we are going to DIsney the week before school starts! My rationale was lower crowd levels because our school starts later than most. However this week I started to wonder if this was a good idea . The kids will have 3 days to recover!

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    Alicia Reply:

    I think you’re doing a great thing for your kids! My parents always took us on last minute vacations right before school started ! My dad was one to soak it all up until the very last minute, do that’s exactly what we did! You’re right about the crowds being much lighter ( we start school here late too – after labor day). We would often get home the DAY before school started. Was this more stressful as we got into high school? Yes! But looking back , I appreciate what my parents were trying to do – make awesome family memories as often and for as long as possible. It was definitely worth it! The only reason we don’t do this with our own family now is because we are about to have 5 children, and traveling in general gets a little more challenging!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I love this idea. My mom was a teacher, so she always had meetings leading up to the first week of school (just like Dave). Plus, our area has a big county fair the week before school and that’s SO much fun for the kids — so I don’t think any last minute vacations are in our family’s future!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — have fun at Disney!

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