Your school-age children can develop the same kinds of bad habits you might fall into after a long vacation. You aren’t the only one who might struggle against a suddenly more structured routine after long weeks of holidays and winter break.
It’s an added challenge if you’re a single parent. You might not be able to “double-team” your kids as easily as parents who are together. With that in mind, here are a few useful tips for getting everyone familiar again with earlier bedtimes, early wake-up call, long school days and homework.
Tackle the challenge with the ex. If you and the other parent are on speaking terms, time to huddle. Figure out how you’re going to tighten restrictions after weeks of freedom. Present a unified front. If one of you is Disney Dad (or Mom) the other will look be the “bad parent” when insisting on homework before video games.
Discuss upcoming changes with the kids. When your kids were younger you might have gotten screaming fits if you suddenly ended playground time. But if you warned them in advance that playtime would end in ten minutes, they were easier to deal with. They had more time to process the change and emotionally deal with it. Same with the structural changes facing them after a long lay-off. Discuss it in advance and let them get used to the fact that change is in the air.
Change things gradually. If the kids’ holiday bedtime has been ten o’clock and they’ll soon have to go to bed an hour earlier, consider a brief scaling back to 9:45 now, and to 9:30 next week. That way, nine o’clock won’t seem so difficult when the time comes.
Put a positive spin on it. Your kids might actually be looking forward to school. If not, remind them how excited they’ll be to see favorite teachers and the friends they haven’t hung with on break. Perhaps there will be a shopping trip for new school clothes and supplies. What kid doesn’t love that? Keep the positives top of mind and you might have children who are counting down the days with anticipation.
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