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Three tips to get back into the school routine

By: Dr. Stacy Meyer

August is here and that means back to school at our house.  Of course, Sprout and BusyBee aren’t exactly school age but since daddy is a teacher “back to school” still means a significant change at home.

Between daddy being off work during the summers and our family vacations, the boys have spent the majority of the time this summer away from their usual daycare/preschool atmosphere…And boy can we tell!

At the age of 1 and 3, routine and familiarity are a big part of their lives and helps them not only to anticipate what is coming next but also the current expectation for behavior.  Daddy and I will admit that although we have tried to keep them on schedule, we have slowly allowed bedtime to become later, nap time to get missed and meal times to move.  There have been too many nights to count in which we wondered “what has gotten into him” as one of the children misbehaved, only to realize that this was all our doing with our overly ambitious day!

Daddy and I did anticipate some change in routine and loss of structure over the summer, but we didn’t anticipate how much it would affect our young preschooler and toddler!  Over the past week, we have really put in the effort to get back to our typical routine at naps and bedtime, and we have noticed that Sprout does much better with going down for a nap when he can anticipate it coming.  He has even started to verbalize the process to us as it happens “right now we are going to eat lunch, then read a book, then take a little nap and then play.” And although BusyBee can’t tell us what he needs verbally, he seems much calmer when we stick to his normal bedtime routine.  I can only imagine as our kids get older, how much further from the routine we will get every summer with increased activities and longer days!

Here are three tips to get kids back on routine or start a new routine before the school year starts:

  1. Start slow!  Start getting back on schedule one item at a time and try not to make excessively drastic changes.  For example, if you’ve noticed that the kids are staying up and sleeping in later this summer, start moving the bedtime and wake time up 30 minutes every couple of days until you get back on schedule.  (Now is a good time to start getting kids back to their early school mornings to avoid excessive fatigue those first few weeks of school!)
  2. Make your expectations clear and stick to the plan!
  3. Build in some rewards for sticking to the routine.  This can be simple such as more time doing a favorite activity.  Let them know that you have this extra time because they have been so good about getting their chores/baths/meals/bedtime routines done without an argument or fight.

Good luck getting back on routine and setting the stage to make the 2013/2014 school year the best yet!  If you have any tricks for getting your kids ready for back to school we would love to hear them!

By: Dr. Stacy Meyer – “Dr. Mom Squad”

Dr. Meyer is a pediatric endocrinologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She is the mother of two boys who she lovingly refers to as “Busy Bee” and “Sprout!” As part of the “Dr. Mom Squad,” Dr. Meyer blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Meyer!

- See more at: http://blog.childrensdayton.org/this-is-not-my-potty-dance/#sthash.IDoZiXJS.dpuf

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