When Going Back To School Is Tough

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IMG_5644 It’s happening already, despite me being ready for it. As I’m browsing Pinterest at night, I keep seeing pins pop up telling me how to make the back-to-school transition easier, how to get organized, how to throw a party to celebrate, how to be prepared, and to be honest, I’m not ready for it and neither are my kids. It’s like Christmas decorations popping up the day after Halloween. I just want to say, can’t we enjoy summer just a little bit longer? My nieces and nephews start back this week, and so I understand the time has come for some of you out there, and for those of you who aren’t yet going back, you still find the best way to start the school year is to prepare. But I’m one of those moms who has learned that the best way to help transition my kids for back to school, is to do as little in advance to prepare as possible. It’s worthwhile to note too, that since we live across the street from our school, back-to-school is an ever-present reminder, always looming in the background, making it another reason why preparing little helps a lot.

My kids don’t naturally love school. Don’t get me wrong, they love to learn and love seeing their teachers and friends everyday; my daughter is a voracious reader and my son thrives off of routine, and once they get going into the school year, they pretty much go everyday with ease. But they are both homebodies by nature who sadly, love to sleep in. They have an extremely hard time for the first several weeks, not only moving back into the daily routine of the school year, but just simply being away from home, from their rooms, from their baby brother, from me. No amount of preparation helps make this easier. So after preparing like crazy the first two years my daughter was in school, I’ve learned that for both of them, and for me, preparing the least helps them the most. What does that look like? If you’ve got kids like mine, here’s how I’ve learned to do it.
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For starters, we stay on with the summer fun till the very last minute.
We keep their bedtime close to normal as much as possible during summer so we don’t have to worry about that transition much. This allows us to go on with summer fun as usual even the weekend before they start back. Because we always start school on a Wednesday, it leaves the weekend open to continue with fun activities and then allows us to slowly ease back into the idea of back to school on Monday and Tuesday. This year we’ll be celebrating Hayden’s 1st birthday the weekend before they start back, something they’re very much looking forward to. They’ll be so busy celebrating with friends and family they won’t even have a chance to focus on the woes of going back to school.

No Big Deal
While I want to get my kids pumped up for a new school year, with kids like mine, I’ve learned that it’s best to treat back to school time as no big deal, just another thing we do. That means no huge celebrations and parties, no elaborate all-day shopping trips, no last big hurrah. While this approach may sound counter-intuitive, it works for us. If we do something too fun right before school starts, and go out with a big bang, my kids will then focus on how fun summer is versus school, and it will just make the transition harder. Almost like a last supper, if you will; “Have fun now kids because once school starts, it’s all down hill here from here.” I know this approach doesn’t work for everyone, but for my kids it does.

Focus On What They Do Love
There are some things my kids do love to do that involve back to school prep, so I focus on those and do them close to our start date. They both get new backpacks this year so we’ll go get frozen yogurt and pick out some new packs and lunch sacks soon. They both love picking out new shoes and especially clothes, so that will be another fun excursion to help get them as excited as possible. But I’ll keep it low-key, and keep the excursions short so we don’t interfere with the days of summer too much.

The Night Before & Day Of
The night before, we’ll go get dinner at their favorite restaurant and just enjoy some time together as a family. We’ll say a prayer for a great school year, pick out their first day of school clothes and just hope for the best. Some years, tears are involved, some years there aren’t. We keep it positive and upbeat and talk about all the exciting things they’ll be learning this year. The morning of, I always sneak out early and pick up a dozen balloons to fill their rooms so they wake up to something fun. I make them a special breakfast and they’re off for the day.

End Of Week Celebrations
I save a fun celebration for the end of our first week. Nothing elaborate, but I make a congratulations sign and hang it in our house, we have movie night and we plan a fun outing with cousins or friends for the weekend. We really emphasize that our life together is fun and great and just because school has started, the fun doesn’t have to end, it just has to move to the weekend. This helps tremendously and keeps them upbeat and positive. Sunday nights usually remain tough for a few weeks, but eventually we all get into the swing of things and the new school routine becomes our normal.

I also want to note that behind the scenes, I do prepare myself by getting organized in the office so when the school paperwork starts rolling in, I can handle it. I also keep our schedules open for a couple of weeks during the actual school week, to allow them plenty of down-time, and even allow for impromptu play dates with school friends if the opportunity comes up. It may not work for everyone, but it works for us. What does your back to school prep routine look like? Anything like ours, or completely different?

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“Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.”



Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Avatar Monique says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I found this post so refreshing and inspiring. My now 3rd grader used to say, “I hate school” whenever someone asked about it. I would cringe. I felt like people thought that it must be because she struggles with it or that she didn’t do well or that there was a bigger problem. I’d always try to make a joke about her comment. But like your kids she’d rather sleep in, be with her family or honestly play at home. This year, I have downplayed school starting (next Wednesday for us) and I think I’m going to implement your other suggestions. I feel normalized by this post. Thank you!!

  • Avatar Allison says:

    I loved this post! I have a 3 year old and a baby so we are not quite there yet, but our son has a hard time with transitions and loves being with our family at home, so I will keep your suggestions in mind. I really like the idea of downplaying it, because big new things can be scary!

  • Avatar Karri says:

    It was quite interesting to read this because I have 2 kids who love school and really look forward to going back, but my 3rd child does not. And I’ve never quite handled him differently than the other two. Now I am thinking that I should. That I should take more of an approach with him like you do. Of course, I’ll have to think about how I can do this while ramping up with the other two who love all the pomp and circumstance of school.
    Hmmmmmm

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