After the magic of the holidays, heading back to school after winter break can feel super overwhelming for some kids (and parents too). Don't let the transition get you down this year. There's actually a lot you can do to make things easier for everyone.
1. Get Back to the School Bedtime Routine
Over break, there's no reason kids need to get up early, and I'm always going to choose to drink my morning coffee in silence over waking them up early when they don't have school. The thing is, later wake-up times tend to lead to a later bedtime, and by the time break is over, we're all pretty off schedule.
Going back to school after winter break is so much worse when kids are tired, so it's totally worth putting in a couple of days to get back on schedule. Work to get them going to bed and getting up closer to the normal time so they'll be rested and ready to go when it's time to way up for school.
We start the shift back to reality about two days before school starts back up. The first day, I wake them up a an hour later than the school wake-up time, and the second day, I wake them up like they're going to school. Bedtime is early both nights, but they can read in bed for a while.
2. Frame Going Back to School as a New Beginning
You don't have to break out the sparkling grape juice and have a toast, but we're not telling you not to do that either. Coming right after New Year's, the end of winter break is a perfect chance to create a new beginning for the school year. Talk to kids about what they're hoping for in the year ahead.
Looking forward can help kids feel like agents in their lives, rather than people who just have to go back to school now because the grown-ups are telling them to. That's powerful.
3. Choose One Way to Make Your Life Easier
Speaking of a new year and new beginnings, make a resolution to make your life easier in one small way. We do a lot for our kids — from signing planners to making lunches to managing schedules to supervising homework to ... it's actually exhausting just to list it.
Think about where your pain points are and figure out one action that will help streamline things just a little bit. Here are a few ideas:
- Make snacks and lunches early in the week so you can just pull them out of the fridge in the morning.
- Check planners at night instead of during the morning rush.
- Give kids incentives to stay on track with their own homework with minimal intervention from you (we like giving a small treat as a reward).
- Set a resolution to plan the schedule for the week on Sunday so you know what's coming and can communicate with your partner or others who help out.
4. Plan Something Fun to Look Forward To
The first day of school after winter break can feel overwhelming for everyone, but it's actually easier if you have something fun to look forward to. Kids have been counting down to the holidays for weeks, and it can feel like there's nothing great coming up once school starts again. Luckily, that's an easy fix.
Plan a fun family activity or outing for the weekend after school starts again. It doesn't have to be huge. We're talking about a night at the movies (or a movie night at home), a family pizza party, a trip to a museum, or anything you and your kids will want to do. Then talk about it before everyone goes back to school. You might even want to make a countdown calendar.
5. Talk About What They'll Share With Friends
Unless you're really on your game when it comes to playdates (and if you are, we're in awe), your kids haven't seen their friends much since school got out. Part of the welcome back after winter break is seeing friends and classmates again. After the break, they'll have lots of new experiences to share, and that's something that's a major pro amid the cons of returning to your routine.
As the break winds down, talk to kids about what they're planning to share with their friends about what they did over vacation. It can be as simple as playing in the snow or seeing a great nature documentary. Reflecting on what they did and how they can communicate that is one way to make the transition a little bit easier.
6. Let Them Feel the Feels
Some kids are going to be excited to go back to school after winter break, but a lot of kids will have mixed feelings or even be sad. You can take steps to frame it in a way that will make things easier, but validating their feelings can help too.
A simple statement like, "I know you feel really sad break is ending. I'm sorry about that" can go a long way. Kids will feel heard, and it's easier for them to identify and process their feelings.
Have an Easier Transition Back to School After Break
Whether you're looking forward to sending kids back to school or will miss them when break is over (for us, it's both), you're got plenty of tricks to make the transition easier. Heading back to school after winter break is one of those times when some kids can really struggle. So plan that family pizza party and get back to your bedtime routine. Spring break will be here before you know it, and it will be time to start the whole thing again.