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4 Tips For A Smoother Back To School Transition

Lately my social media pages have been filled with pictures and posts by moms from every walk of life. The posts range in emotion from sad and weepy to happy dancing and cartwheels and everything in between. Yes, it’s that time again when our kids head out the door to start a new school year.

Maybe you are sending your frightened kindergartener through those huge doors for the first time, high fiving your fifth grader because they are finally at the top of the food chain in the playground or waving as your college coed leaves the nest for the first time. No matter where you fall in line, this time of year means transition, and as a mom our job is to make it as smooth as possible.

Over the years we’ve had back to school transitions that ran like a well oiled machine, and then there were those years that I was sure that I’d never make it through. But over time we found some tips and tricks that helped make back to school a lot less painful for everyone. 

4 Tips For A Smooth Transition

Tip #1 Establish a routine early

Nobody wants summer to end, but slowly transitioning back into a routine rather than an abrupt switch helps make those first few weeks of the school year so much easier. We found that if about 2 weeks before the first day we began to dial back our days it really helped. Here are some ideas that worked in our family:

  • Bringing the kids inside a bit earlier for quiet movies or reading.
  • Beginning to set alarms each day rather than sleeping in.
  • Slowly transitioning to the school day wakeup time (we did it in 15 minute increments).

Remember that when your child knows what to expect they feel more secure and will be able to handle new things much easier, and the earlier you establish the school day routine, the smoother those first few days will be.

Tip #2 Acknowledge What Your Child is Going Through. 

As adults it’s easy to forget that a new school year brings with it lots of change and stress for our kids. It’s important to remember that they are dealing with new teachers, new friends and new schedules and they will look to you for reassurance that everything will be ok.

One of the best things you can do as a parent is to acknowledge how they may be feeling and allow them to talk through their fears. Make time to be there and listen; often our children don’t need us to do anything they just need to know that we understand what they are going through and that we are there for them when they need us. Some great ways to do this are:

  • Make time for daily meals together. Even when everyone is going in different directions find a way to eat one meal a day as a family. At times when life was super busy it a late night snack at 9pm was all we could manage, but connecting as an entire family once a day with no distractions is key to healthy, happy relationships. (And yes sometimes one of us had to skype in, but we made it happen)
  • Once a month have a family game night. Getting together to interact in a fun way opens the line of communication especially in the teen years. Sure you may get moans and groans and some whining about how “dumb” it is those first few times but trust me it’s worth it!

Tip #3 Unplug from the Crazy

I don’t know about you, but rules especially regarding electronics and well much anything else, become a lot more lax around our house when the days are long and summer is upon us. But one thing I’ve learned is that if I don’t get a handle on the time spent with the x-box, cell phones and anything else that needs to be charged BEFORE the school bell rings, I know I’m in trouble.

So while I don’t win any awards for the following suggestions, they do help with the transition and are in the best interest of our kids:

  • All kids cell phones are silenced after 9pm (a little later as they get older) and kept in the kitchen (no phones in rooms at night). Years ago a friend shared something her son’s school counselor said which stuck with me because it makes total sense. A tween/teen should not be connected at all times, in fact did you know that most bullying, promiscuity and inappropriate behavior occurs after 9pm via social media and texting?Remember a phone is a privilege and you have every right to limit its use based on what’s best and safest for your child.
  • Establish rules regarding gaming/computer time. If you thought the cell phone rule didn’t win brownie points, it will come as no surprise that our no gaming during the week rule was met with lots of resistance and pleading. However as I look back I know that it was the best thing we ever did. After the initial mutiny and “I hate you” stage wore off, I was amazed at how much less yelling and pleading I had to do to ensure homework and chores were complete. Now your rule may not be as strict as ours, but setting boundaries before the school year begins will make for an easier transition!

Tip #4 Breathe and Remember You Still Have Time

The last tip is one that I still need to remember. I love summer and all the activities that come with it. But sometimes I find that I get into a last-minute “have to cram it all in” mode. I forget that just because the school year is starting that we still have time to enjoy the warm temperatures and sunshine.

So instead of spending the last few weeks of the summer taking that last mini-vacation or running around completing our bucket list I try to allow the family to  breathe and enjoy the extra downtime to relax, recharge and connect.


~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at


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