There are a couple of things that I have found to make our transition back into the school year easier for all involved.  Including me because I like sleeping in, going to the pool and playing with our friends but alas, responsibility calls.

  1.  Start the school schedule early.  I start easing us back into the school year a couple of weeks early by getting us into our school year sleep schedule.  I have found that the I am, I totally mean the kids, are in a much better frame of mind when the first day of school isn’t also the first day they have had to wake up early all summer.  This makes no one happy.
  2. Clean and prep the house.  Before school starts, I make sure I have a ‘clean slate’ to start the school year.  Bedrooms have been cleaned and gutted, everything is dusted, floors mopped, I have binged and purged in an effort to make school year cleaning easier.  I also usually have one or two bigger projects that I just don’t even attempt in the school year.  This year, I am officially getting rid of the classroom in the basement and making into a guest suite.  A Geek inspired suite that only we true nerds will appreciate but my in-laws will appreciate because they will get their own room and bathroom even if all the geek touches go unnoticed.  (Tardis blue walls, Captain America red curtains etc) Last year, I redid our bedroom and repainted the front room and dining room.
  3. Plan meals.  I like to have a list of meals prepped and ingredients in the pantry and freezer.  If I am really on my game, I will have several meals in the freezer.  I have a great list of about 10 – 15 Crockpot meals that I make sure I have everything for.  I am not someone who likes to list out a meal chart for each day (what if I change my mind, what if I don’t want to eat that?  It’s too confining) but I do have a list of all the meals I have either in the freezer or have the ingredients for.  Apparently, I need to feed the people 3 times a day, 7 days a week, so annoying and having a plan makes that easier.  I also prep breakfast by having a fresh batch of granola, breakfast sandwiches in the freezer and breakfast burritos frozen and available. Lunches are leftovers, sandwiches, veggies and hummus and lots of fruit, it’s an every man for themselves around here but I try to have everything well stocked and ready to go.
  4. Behavior check.  It’s important for everyone to know that there will be no whining or complaining, we obey right away and we are kind in our words and actions.  Start tightening the reigns when you start the sleep schedule, it is not a good plan to start behavior training on the first day of school.  Trust me, been there done that. One year, I started school two days after getting back from England and Scotland after leaving the kids with Grandparents for two weeks.  It was not my best plan.
  5. Start school slowly.  We do math and LA at least 3 days a week during the summer when we are home but once August hits, it will be everyday.  The next week, I will add Science, the week after that, Bible and History, then Foreign Language.  It may take me a month to add it all in but it vastly improves everyones morale if the beginning of the school year doesn’t take us forever.  Easing into it also allows us to slowly finish as well.  It is so great of a boost to know in April that you started finishing books and allows that extra boost to get it all done.  For my high schoolers, I start the most vital subjects first so that if the end of the year gets too crazy I can start drop kicking some of the less important subject.  With World’s for Robotics, Tournaments and Nationals for Bible Bowl, AP Tests as well as ACT and SAT’s, the end of the year can be crazy and if we can have some of the more difficult subjects successfully accomplished, we all win.
  6. Make the first official day of school FUN!  When my kids come down for the first day of school, I have homemade poptarts waiting and a pile of goodies for each kid.  I have each of their favorite candy bars ( which they can eat right away or savor throughout the day – wanna guess which kids does what?), fun pens and pencils, a fun new book to read, a fun t-shirt (we used to tie dye t-shirts but my kids stopped liking that when they were about 10 and 13) and fun bookmarks.  If you have preschoolers and toddlers, make sure they get something new and fun too, a brand new coloring book or activity book with brand new crayons and maybe a new learning toy.  Even our little ones need to know that we do this school thing together, it’s something our whole family does, we learn together.  My husband tries to go into work later so we can take pictures, have breakfast together and then he prays over each of us.  Most years, I make sure the first day of school finishes at lunch time and then we hit the pool.  Make it a day to look forward too, not enter grimly.
  7. Plan a couple of dates.  I know that the beginning of the school is going to be hard, it just is, and it usually takes several week or months to get into the full swing of things and I know that I will need a break.  So, I inform my husband that we will need to go out and in years past, I planned babysitters ahead of time and booked them a month in advance.  I also plan date days with my friends.  I know that I will need time to decompress with my best friend (and now that she’s moving an hour away, I really will have to plan.  Noooooo, don’t leave me!), my Mom for her ever present, “It’s going to be okay and they are really great kids.” and with my sister who will take me to silly movies and make me snort laugh.  I take the lead and ask and plan the dates.  They are vital for my sanity and the children’s well being.

As with everything that’s hard but worth it, a little preparation can go a long way.

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