10 Ways to Ease the Summer-to-School Transition

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    Back-to-School Tips The end of August always sneaks up on you. One week it’s pool parties, and the next it’s the shock of routine, new classrooms, and the frantic after-school shuffle of getting the kids to all their activities on time. Here are 10 easy ways to get ready for back-to-school while still enjoying those precious August days.

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    1: Set the alarm

    Back-to-School Tips: Set the alarm Start setting an alarm for your kids the week before school starts. If you need to dial wake-up times back more than 30 minutes, do so gradually over a week. You’ll also want to tighten up summer bedtime schedules to ensure your kids catch enough Zs.

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    2: Take stock of lunch boxes and backpacks

    Back-to-School Tips: Take stock of lunch boxes and backpacks Make sure lunch bags are in good-enough condition for another year of use, and clean out book bags. Have your kids try on their backpacks for size — they may have grown out of more than just their jeans. For guidelines on backpack safety, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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    3: Work back into a routine

    Back-to-School Tips: Work back into a routine Plan a schedule for the week prior to school — and stick to it! Create loose blocks of time for things like buying school supplies and updating fall wardrobes. To make the transition easier (on your kids and yourself), balance a morning of tasks with an afternoon of summer activities.

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    4: Update school clothes

    Back-to-School Tips: Update school clothes Start filling your kids’ closets with fall- and school-appropriate clothing. Have some fun with it by putting on a fashion show to determine what clothing is too small or worn out. Then make a list of what each child needs. (Sorry, you’ll have to come up with your own ideas about how to actually get them in to the store to try on clothes ... )

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    5: Get your calendar in order

    Back-to-School Tips: Get your calendar in order Mark school events, after-school activities, and appointments all in one place. Google Calendar is a great way to share the family schedule with your spouse and older children who are online. Though not as portable or fancy, a paper calendar posted in your kitchen can work just as well.

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    6: Create a "home plate" for each child

    Back-to-School Tips: Create a Make sure each kid has a designated space, preferably near the front door, to hang his or her coat and bag and store shoes. This will reduce the number of times jackets are slung over chairs and bags are left on the kitchen table — and the time you’ll spend looking for that left sneaker.

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    7: Switch out seasonal gear

    Back-to-School Tips: Switch out seasonal gear After your last beach day, store the sand buckets and pool toys in a closet or storage bin, and dust off your fall-activity gear. Check if soccer cleats still fit, and make note of any new activity your child will need a uniform or equipment for.

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    8: Rotate furniture and decor

    Back-to-School Tips: Rotate furniture and decor To visually mark a new season, think about small changes you can make to your home. Rearrange a few pieces of furniture in your living room, move art and framed photos to different walls, or change the slipcovers on accent pillows. Minor tweaks to your living space are an easy way to hit the reset button and prepare your family for change.

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    9: Meal plan

    Back-to-School Tips: Meal plan Summer was all about simple salads and barbecuing. Celebrate fall and the return to school with a few nights of heartier dishes like soups, stews, and casseroles. Make a double or triple batch and store extras in the freezer as back-up meals for dinner in a pinch.

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    10: Talk about it

    Back-to-School Tips: Talk about it Your kids are probably bummed their lazy summer days are coming to an end, so build some excitement around seeing school friends again, and ask about favorite classes and teachers. Avoid discussions about early wake-ups and homework; those realities will come soon enough.

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