For children, the holidays are often a time of irregular schedules, exciting travel, new toys, lots of visitors and plenty of sugar! Though little ones tend to be worn out when it’s finally time to get back into a daily routine, it never seems to make the transition any easier. It can be tough for children to get back into the groove of things after the holidays, but with a few tips, you can help your child get back on track.
- Bring back bedtime: Getting your child back into a bedtime routine is key. Start three to four nights before they head back to school. Create a soothing bedtime ritual that helps them wind down and ease into an earlier bed time. Try softening the lights, playing soothing music and lowering voices an hour before it’s time to get tucked in. A warm bath with a bit of lavender oil followed by a fluffy towel-off, some soft, warm pajamas, and teeth brushing provide all the sensory cues that it is time to wind down.
- Preserve holiday memories: Have your child create a memory review of the holidays. Create a video of her favorite moments, a slide show of her holiday experience or invite her to draw or paint a picture. Preserving her memories of the holidays in a place she can revisit will help her with the transition of returning to the school routine.
- Prepare your child: Be sure to talk to him about the return to school and a regular routine. Keep your explanation short, sweet and concrete. You might say, “Tomorrow you go back to school to see Miss Kathy and all your friends. We will wake up, have breakfast, get dressed, and Daddy will take you to school.”
- Accept all feelings: Remember to allow your child to feel and express all of her feelings. She might show disappointment, dread, excitement or frustration about going back to school. No matter what feelings she shows, let her know that whatever she feels is okay. If she acts out with those feelings, let her know you understand her feelings and then set limits firmly but lovingly.
- Save time for snuggles: Separating from Mommy and Daddy after being together a lot can be difficult for some children. Be sure to set aside time for some extra snuggles in the morning before you leave for school to ease the transition.
- Don’t linger at the classroom door: It doesn’t help your child or the class when you linger at the door, no matter how much your child may cling. After years of observations in preschool classrooms, I can attest that your child will not feel you have abandoned him. When you linger, it only prolongs the pain of separation. Prepare him in advance by saying that you will give him a hug and a kiss and will tell him bye-bye at the door, then follow through and do just that.