September 4, 2019

Countdown to School: Getting Your Child on a Routine 

While there’s still a bit of summer left to savor, that post-Labor Day hustle will shortly be upon us with that special brand of busy that comes with the fall.  Back to school routines, schedules, and healthy habits are on the minds of everyone.  To start the school year on the right foot, we’ve outlined some tips on how to get your child on a healthy, streamlined school routine.


Ease into the routine.  If your child spent the dog days of summer on island time, you’re best bet will be to ease them back into the structure and pace of school life.  Morning, nighttime and even eating structure will need to be adjusted.  Here are some tips:

  • Start adjusting bedtime and wakeup time slowly and early.  Doing this a couple weeks before the start of school will likely have a better result than cold turkey on the first day of school.
  • As you’re adjusting your timing and planning your morning routine, remember to add a buffer—shoes get lost, breakfast takes a little longer, a few extra hugs might be needed.  That’s life! Make time for it.
  • Look at your child’s school schedule and be sure their meals and snack times at home line up with what’s to come.  If your child has been eating a late breakfast or grazing all day, they’ll need to get their eating routine on a more structured schedule.  Check to see if and when snack time will be at school and work that into the schedule as well. For some great lunch and snack time ideas, check out one of our favorite resources, Weelicious.


Embrace the checklist.  Outlining tasks can give the structure and predictability kids need to move through their mornings and evenings more efficiently.  Routines and habits have endless benefits for mental health, building independence, and creating a welcoming environment at home.  Routines can be basic, and for younger children, creating a chart to start the year might be helpful.  For older children, work with them on the routine that best fits their needs.  If you’re feeling up for it, these printable (and customizable!) routine cards might save you a few reminders.


Morning Checklist 

Get dressed

Eat breakfast

Brush teeth

Get ready to go: pack backpack, get shoes and jacket




After School Checklist 

Empty backpack

Put shoes, backpack, and coat away

Wash hands


Evening Checklist

Clean up toys

Take a bath

Brush teeth


Story and snuggle!


Prioritize the schedule.  Music classes, sports, clubs and activities can add up quickly.  Factor in playdates, family time, and homework if your child is to that age, and even the most well-intentioned parents can quickly get overwhelmed.

  • Be realistic about the schedule.  Consider downtime a vital part of your week!
  • If your child is old enough that they’re able to talk about what activities they’d like to do, it can be a good exercise in ownership and independence. Give them some choices, and let them decide.

Stay ahead of back-to-school germs.  Back to school means back to school illnesses.  As cold and flu season ramps up and those school year germs begin to make their rounds, it’s good to have some healthy habits in place to stay on the offense.

  • From the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to the CDC,  it is agreed that the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs comes down to the basics: wash your hands.  When you feel your child is ready, which could be as early as 8 months, start to teach them how to wash their own hands.
  • Humidifiers are as much a preventive measure to ward of sickness as they are the key to getting some sleep when your little one is congested.  Think of dry air as the home field advantage for germs: it dries out your sinuses, lowering your resistance to bacteria and viruses.  Plus, germs travel better in dry air.  Slow ‘em down by keeping the air moist, and when the air is moist, sinuses are less likely to dry out.
  • As for the great disinfecting debate, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and AAP both agree there is a time and place for it. The quick rule? Clean daily, save the disinfecting for times of illness.


Make a plan to get (and stay!) organized. Backpacks come home with never-ending surprises: artwork to be cherished, permission slips to sign, events to volunteer for.   You’ll need a system to both organize the sheer volume of paper that comes home and a way to organize your calendar to ensure everyone knows where they need to be and when.

  • Enlist the help of a family calendar app.  These calendars tend to integrate more than your typical calendar, like grocery lists and family-friendly color codes.
  • Wondering what to with all.that.artwork? Try converting it into a https://www.plumprint.combook.


With a bit of planning, you’ll get your child on a back-to-school routine in no time!