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Finding a routine after the summer and why it’s important

After lots of long lazy summer days with the family at home, getting back into the routine of school and work can be a bit of a shock to the system – to you and your children. Getting into a routine is integral for easing school anxiety, as well as helping your children get into a more consistent eating, sleeping, playing and working cycle. We’ve compiled some top tips for easing back into the school routine to help the whole family.

Why a routine is an important

Starting a new school year can be a time full of uncertainty – new teachers, new schoolmates, maybe even a new school! It is a time that your child will certainly feel nervous about, even if they don’t say so. Finding a routine is a brilliant way to ease anxiety, as it allows your child to understand what is coming next – whether that’s food, sleep, a nap, homework or being picked up at the school gates! Not to mention they will undoubtedly be relaxed after a summer of fun activities, so the reintroduction of stricter bedtimes and wake up times might be a struggle.

Five top tips for finding a routine

1.    Ease into a routine at the end of summer

This is by far one of the best ways to get back into your routine. Why? Because it will get you and your children back into a rhythm of structured activities, bedtimes, eating times etc, so when the school day comes around and you’re fixed to certain timings, the transition is easier. Below we have suggested an example summer routine for you to look at and tweak based on your family ages, where you live and what activities you like to do. Having a rough but consistent plan of when you’re eating, when you’re napping and when you’re playing will allow your children to understand fixed time and will make the school transition much smoother.

2.    Get your children involved in the routine and understanding times

Part of getting into a routine is letting your children be part of the process and helping them understand why a routine is necessary. Of course, the more they do it, the more they get used to it, but it might be a good idea to let them help you draft up the summer schedule. Ask them what they’re favourite activities are and draw up a chart of the time you will do it and how long you’ll do it for. This will allow them to see how a day is made up and understand the concept of minutes/hours. Use stickers, coloured pens and have a creative session to get them involved in drawing up a summer routine. Then they might be more excited and inclined to stick to it!

3.    Ease off sugar and caffeine in the afternoon

One of the most important parts of a successful routine is getting a good night sleep! If you’re attempting to implement a summer routine ahead of the school term, make sure to ease off the caffeine and sugar in the afternoon. Both of these prevent sleep and will make it harder to stick to the desired bedtime.

4.    Understand the importance of a consistent bed time

During the lovely summer nights, the nights are long and bedtimes probably chop and change every day. This is a luxury to be absolutely enjoyed, but become incredibly difficult when you need to get your kids in bed at a specific time ahead of school the next day. Towards the end of the summer, try to encourage a regular bedtime that is similar to a school day. It may sound boring, but will be so worth it!

5.    Maintain structured activity during the summer

Playing in the park, getting creative and being outside are all the absolute best parts of the summer holidays – so should be wholly enjoyed. However, there is one sneaky way to maintain some kind of routine, which is to engage in structured activities, which your children understand as such. These activities involve following specific instructions or completing a task – similar to a school class. This could be a craft challenge, a physical challenge in the garden or even cooking something in the kitchen.

A sample summer routine vs school routine

Here’s a sample summer routine, which might help ease back into a school routine – you can compare the two and alter depending on your family.

Example summer routine

0600 Wake up
0630 Prepare breakfast and eat together
0730 Watch one programme or read a book together
0815 Shower/Bath and get dressed
0900 A structured activity – Play outside, go to the park, farm etc
1200 Lunch – prepared at home or out
1300 Quiet time – nap or read a book
1500 Structured play or activity – outside, arts and crafts
1700 Make and prepare dinner together
1800 Eat as a family
1900 Bathtime
2000 Book and bedtime

Example back to school routine

0600 Wake up
0630 Get ready to go to school
0700 Breakfast
0730 Leave for school
0830/0900 Drop off at school
1500 School pick up
1530 After school snack
1600 Quiet time/homework
1700 Prepare dinner
1730 Eat dinner as a family
1800 Quiet time/homework
1900 Bathtime and ready for bed
1945 Book and bedtime

Change is hard and that’s okay!
Whilst we have compiled all these tips and tricks, ultimately you can only do as much as you can, as change is always hard and the family will inevitably take some adjusting. Don’t beat yourself up about this – you can only do what you can.