Re-establishing Sleep Routines for the Upcoming School Year

I’m the first to admit that my family’s sleep routine gets a little scattered over the summer break. Bedtimes get later and mornings seem made for sleeping in. But with three kids heading into elementary school and summer vacation coming to an end, it’s time to think about re-establishing those routines to give our kids the best start possible as they head back into the classroom. Here are three tips for making the transition from summer to school as easy as possible on everyone:

Routine is key
Your child should be going to bed and getting up at the same times they will need to for school in the weeks leading up to the big day. If they’ve been sleeping until 9am all summer but have to get up at 6:30am in order to make it to the school bus, move morning wakeup gradually over the course of a week. You don’t want the first morning of early wakeups to be the first day of school when emotions are running high. If your child is just starting kindergarten, be prepared that they may need an earlier bedtime than usual once school starts as the transition to full day school without naps can be exhausting. Make sure the routine extends to the weekend as well – and try not to schedule too much for the first few weekends after school begins as kids may need the time to decompress.

Be your family’s sleep role model
Unfortunately, getting back to your own usual sleep routine isn’t a walk in the park for parents either. During the summer, parents’ personal sleep schedules get neglected too, so it’s important that you also make changes to get back on sleep track. When your children witness you making those changes they’ll be more willing to follow suit.

Turn off tech
Technology is wonderful, but the stimulation can keep kids (and grownups) awake. About an hour before bedtime, turn off the tech – television, computers, tablets, and phones – and put them in a family docking station away from the bedrooms. Encourage older kids to finish homework as soon as possible so they aren’t using tech right up until bedtime to finish a project.

By following these tips, you can help your kids go back to school well-rested and ready to learn!

 

Written by: Alanna McGinn, YMC.ca

7 Back to School Hacks

Back to school is quite possibly the busiest time of year for parents. There are activities to register for, supplies to buy, schedules to organize, lunches to pack, and so much more!

To make this time of year a little less hectic, we thought we’d share our favourite tips for making sure your family is set up for school year success!

Meet the Teacher
You don’t necessarily have to wait until ‘Meet the Teacher Night’ to get to know the person who will be spending a big chunk of the weekdays with your kids. Scheduling a sit-down with the homeroom teacher at the beginning of the school year can be a great way to learn more about the teacher, the curriculum and the classroom environment so you can stay aware of your kids’ school life.

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Make a Lunches Meal Plan for the Week
For some great lunch ideas, click here! Instead of standing bleary-eyed in front of the fridge in the morning (or even the night before) looking for inspiration, take some time on the weekend to write out a school lunch meal plan for the whole week. This lets you do one big grocery shop for everything you need, takes the guesswork out of what you’re going to pack and the kids will love packing their lunches in bento boxes. Trust us, meal planning really streamlines the process!

Have a Staging Area for Everything You’ll Need in the Morning
Just like a pro racing team, having a staging area where everything you need is set up and ready to go will help you get everyone out the door quickly and easily.

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Establish Back-to-School Sleep Routines in Advance
It’s hard to go from summer fun to school year structure in a single night, so take about a week before the first day of school to start adhering to school night bedtimes to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Let Kids Help Pick Fun School Supplies
A cool new notebook in their favourite colour or a lunchbox with their favourite cartoon character can really get kids in the back-to-school spirit. Take them with you when you go back-to-school shopping so they can feel involved in the whole process!

Update Medical Records (including allergies)
Make sure the school has all the correct health and contact information on file. You don’t want to wait until an emergency happens to find out they’re dealing with out-of-date info!

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Get a Back-to-School Buddy for your Kid (and for you, too!)
Everything’s more fun ­– and much less stressful – with a friend. Make sure that both you and your kids have buddies who are having similar back-to-school experiences that you can commiserate with!

We hope these tips will help you set your whole family up for back to school success! Share your favourite back-to-school tips and memories on our Facebook or on Instagram using the hashtag #FamilyIsMLF.

5 Back to School Shopping Sanity Savers

“Back to school”: Three words guaranteed to make moms break into a cold sweat. Before you need to breathe into a paper bag, know that a new year needn’t stress you out nor break the bank.

Take Stock
Before you hit the stores, take inventory. Tip pencil cases into an old shoebox and sift through last year’s notebooks. Stash away any special projects your child was proud of; recycle the rest. Simply tear out used pages or pop in some fresh lined paper, throw a blank label over notebook subject lines, and you’re good to go for another grade.

Take Measurements
Wait until the last minute to make sure feet and legs haven’t grown another inch over the summer! Raid the closet for fall clothes that still fit and collect a bag of too-small items for donating. Be sure to accept hand-me-downs from friends with older children, and when it comes to fashion, don’t play into trends. If your child cares about clothes, allow them to pick out a first day outfit (then leave them at home while you do the rest of the shopping!). Many retail stores run regular deals, perfect for picking up basics, even uniform pants. Shoes more than anything suffer greatly over the year, so buy two pairs of sturdy running shoes in the next size up, and call it a day.

Take a List
You won’t be able to reuse everything, so once you’ve taken stock, write a list of must-haves and stick to it. Instead of speciality retailers, consider hitting unusual suspects like box stores and supermarkets. Even discount/dollar stores carry all the essentials for cheap.

Take Name-Tags
Labels are worth every penny. Invest in a combo pack for lunch dishes and clothes that won’t come off in the washer. For siblings, consider labels with just their last name or blanks that you can customize, then get them to do the labelling. While name-tags may seem pricey, it will cost you more if that brand new pair or shoes or cool hat doesn’t make it home.

Take it Frozen
Every year we all have grand visions of Instagram-worthy lunches to make for the year ahead. But a few days in, the reality hits: my kid will only eat a couple types of sandwiches in rotation. He likes deli meats, and there’s some great flavour options at the deli counter to keep things from getting dull. Buy on sale and freeze, but remember to thaw a fresh pack on Sunday night.

Deep breaths, parents! A new school year is exciting, so let’s do this!

 

Written by: Julie Green, YMC.ca

5 Ways to Make the First Day of School a Fun Family Tradition

Back-to-school feelings are usually mixed. Many parents can’t wait for it to roll around, while others lament the end of a lackadaisical sunny season. Some kids are excited or nervous, and then others just don’t want to go.

No matter which group your family belongs to, there are ways you can make the first day of school memorable for years to come.

Yearly Time Capsule
This is a great way to capture your child’s feelings as the first day of school nears. Don’t let Pinterest-pressure stop you from putting this together! You don’t need a glue gun or glitter. Use a cardboard box, have your kids decorate it and include things like:

  • First day of school photo
  • A piece of paper with their height measurement
  • Newspaper from that day

Write down what they’re excited/not excited about for the coming school year, goals for the year, and fun things like their favourite song and book.

Special Kids Dinner
Some families make a special breakfast, but first school mornings are usually a gong show of epic proportions while everyone adjusts to the new routine.

This is definitely not a time for us to attempt an Instagram-worthy breakfast, but dinner is a different story; we’re more relaxed and have time to talk about the day. This year the first day of school lands on a Taco Tuesday, so pull out a recipe and run with it!

First Day of School Book
You know it’s coming: the (dreaded) reading log. There’s no denying the benefits of reading are profound, so start the year off with a brand new book for each of your kids to get started.

The Neverending Story
Purchase a new notebook and write a few sentences to begin a story. For instance:

Once upon a time there was a boy named Charlie. It was the first day of school and as he walked to class he came across….

Each day your kids continue the story with a few sentences. This is a “no rules” story so let them be as silly as they want. At the end of the year you have a complete story you can read on the last day of school.

Posing in Last Year’s Clothes
Measuring our kids’ growth is something we all do. Have your kids wear the clothes they wore on the first day of school from the previous year to see how much they’ve grown. It also provides many hysterical moments, as they try to squeeze into too-small shirts and shorts.

No matter what you do to make the first day of school memorable, take a few moments to pat yourself on the back because you made it through another summer.

Written by: Sharon DeVellis, YMC.ca