Getting your middle schoolers back into their routine after the holidays can be daunting. Transitioning from a relaxed break to a structured school schedule can be challenging for parents and kids.
Two weeks after the holiday break, and you’re probably still trying to wrangle them back into regularly scheduled programming.
Breathe. You’re not the only one.
With a few proven strategies, you can help your child continue to transition smoothly into their new middle school schedule.
We’ll explore five surefire ways to help your middle schooler get on track with their schedule now that the holiday shuffle is over. From setting clear expectations to gradually reintroducing the routine, we’ll provide practical advice and emotional support to help you easily navigate this transition.
So, let’s dive in and revive the routine together!
Set Bedtime Schedules
If you didn’t re-instate the bedtime routine after the new year, we imagine you had some grumpy pre-teens on the way to school. Waking up before the sun can jolt your middle schooler’s system after the holidays. They’ve just spent two or more weeks staying up late, binge-watching, hanging out with friends, and stuffing their faces with junk food at any waking moment.
Don’t hit them with a hard stop on fun. Parents.com recommends pushing the bedtime back 15-30 minutes each night a few days before it’s time to return to school. The idea is to ease them into the family routine after the holidays.
Also, your middle schooler needs a lot of sleep to stay healthy.
The National Library of Medicine says sleeping the number of recommended hours on a regular basis is associated with better health outcomes, including improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.
Two more pointers:
- Set an audible countdown alarm on your phone or create an Alexa routine for bedtime. Doing so will help everyone be mindful of the back-to-school, family routine, signaling it’s time to settle down for the night.
- Incorporating a hygiene regime is a natural addition to the bedtime schedule. If you have multiple middle schoolers, schedule everyone to bathe/shower, brush teeth, wash hair, etc, before the bedtime alarm sounds.
Create a back-to-school checklist.
What parent doesn’t appreciate a good checklist?!
Prior to your child’s return, identify and create a list of all tasks that you and your child will need to complete to prepare for their return to school or child care (e.g., clothing, books, hairstyling, nutritional needs). You may also want to create a separate list that details specific items that must be added to your child’s backpack for school or child care.
Discuss expectations and changes.
Discuss expectations for the remainder of the year before returning to school. Grade school children won’t anticipate many changes, but a middle schooler returning after the holiday break will likely have a new set of classes and teachers.
They may be nervous about pending coursework or navigating a new part of the school. Make time to discuss their concerns (or excitement) about the coming year and ensure the house rules are clear on what you expect from them with their studies and home life after school.
We love this pro tip from Colorado Parent about decompressing before school starts. Middle school schedules are hectic. Rushing into a day of six to eight classes after a socially draining holiday may be more than your middle schooler can handle.
The holidays are over, but more school breaks are in store for your middle schooler. Use their spring break to try the decompression strategy. Make the Saturday and Sunday low impact, with little to no physical and or social energy to exert.
In other words, take the vacation but build in a day to unwind at home before the last leg of school for your middle schooler.
Organize the night before
Organizing the night before makes your mornings easier—and not just after a holiday break. After a long break, the last thing you want is a stressful morning getting your kids back to school.
Here’s a quick to-do to start your organizing:
- Make lunches
- Style hair
- Pick out clothes (and iron clothes)
- Pack the car (soccer practice gear, drama club costume, and whatever else you need for the next day)
- Divvy up the lunch money
Was the fridge a revolving door over winter break? Tell your middle schooler it’s closed for business after a particular hour. The family routine doesn’t allow 24/7 kitchen access, nor does their school. Too much unhealthy snacking can take a toll on the routine you’re trying to get your middle schooler to follow.
Don’t worry. There’s still time to help your middle schooler get on track after the holidays. Start using the strategies above and navigate the transition together.