Wow, what a summer!
What did your family do?
Any of this sound familiar? But now, back to school is just around the corner…
Dun Dun Dun…
So what does that mean?
Sure, it means back to school shopping, of course. I still remember how much I loved to pick out my first-day-of-school outfit. And those new shoes that sat in the box for the first two weeks after we purchased them because they had to stay clean until that first day back at school! And I remember the endless folders and three ring notebooks and pencils and highlighters and pretty new pens!
But it also means that the fun, relaxed schedule your family might have been running on all summer long is coming to an end. Back to school means that morning alarm clocks need to be set again, and so, nightly bedtimes need to be enforced again as well.
And, rightfully so, young children are not going to be thrilled to get their freedom taken away.
So what can you do to avoid the dread bedtime battles that are looming ahead of you?
Any time we go through a major change it’s always good to round everyone up and either recap what has happened, or prepare everyone for what is going to happen. And if it’s something that we know is going to happen, (the back to school date has been set on the calendar for months now) it’s best to get ahead of things and be preemptive.
A fun way to start the meeting is to have everyone go around the circle and have everyone list what was their favorite summer memory. Or even better, have them share their favorite summer late night memory. Express that:
Yes! That was fun!
But unfortunately, with school going back in session, these are going to have to stop for a while. By bringing attention to these nights that you were able to bend bedtime, you can show your little ones that you are not the enemy. You want them to have as much fun as possible, when they can!
Explain that you understand that they might not want to go to bed early when school starts, but that it’s very important for their brains and bodies that you go back to your routine and schedule. Ask them to list what they have to do in school that they haven’t had to do all summer. This will help them visualize all the ways the two seasons are different.
If you are faced with some really grumpy kids, have them brainstorm some ideas for next summer that they can look forward to. But don’t be afraid of boundaries and routines. Kids thrive with structure and, as parents, it’s our job to provide it for them.
Another way to help ease the tension is to let your kids have some say in how bedtime is going to go. Before your family meeting, decide on some choices that you could leave up to your children to decide on. Nothing earth shattering of course, but just something small so that they can feel some responsibility in how their bedtimes are going to go. Some examples would be if they want to brush their teeth before they get their pajamas on or after. Another option would be if they want to read their bedtime stories in bed together or if they’d rather have story time on the couch.
Round out the family meeting by working together to make a new checklist for the new school year. It’s always good for littles to have a visual of what to expect. If they are the ones making it, they’ll feel more connected to it.