1 Change bedtimes gradually
Chances are bedtimes have been long forgotten over the summer holidays. Reduce the shock-factor of getting into bed by 7pm or 8pm by starting two weeks out, and getting them into bed ten minutes earlier each night. Most kids need between nine and ten hours sleep to wake up at their best in the morning, with eight generally the absolute minimum. And, after all, they want to start the year by being the fastest on the field or smartest in class, don’t they…?
2 Get an evening routine in place
Start making dinner times slightly earlier, making sure they’ve had plenty of time to digest their food before heading off to bed. Use your evenings to make your mornings easier – get them to organise the clothes they need for the week ahead, and stack them as they’ll use them. Get schoolbags packed and stowed by the door, so everything is ready for the next morning. Once they’re in bed, have some one-to-one time, talk to them about their day and the week ahead.
3 Create a morning routine
The first few days (or weeks!) are going to be a period of adjustment, so aim to get everyone up earlier than they need to be. They’ll need plenty of time to get dressed, eat breakfast and round up stray pencil cases – and potentially have a meltdown in the doorway on the way to the car. And don’t skip breakfast, even if they’re adamant they’re not hungry, or have suddenly developed a tantrum-inducing aversion to anything other than the chicken nuggets they’ve been eating all summer at their grandparents’. (Thanks, guys.)
4 Get on top of bathtime
So, over summer, they’ve probably not been washing quite so frequently, or rigorously, as they do normally. (What? A little dirt’s good for the immune system. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.) It’s time to reel the urchins in and get them in the shower/tub at the same time every afternoon/evening. It’s a new school term, so why not get them to choose a new towel and new shower or bath gel, now that they’re so grown up? They’ll be responsible for making sure their towel is hung up to dry every evening, and that their own personal washing kit is added to the shopping list when it runs out.
5 Bring the kids into it
It’s their routine – get them shaping it, drawing out schedules and feeling involved in the process. The more they feel like they’ve designed it (within reason), the less they’ll resist, and the less time you’ll have to allocate in your day for gentle coaxing…