Back to school season can be overwhelming for some parents and caregivers. Buying school supplies, finding the routine of mornings, and generally getting organized after a summer season full of empty schedules and spontaneity can take its toll on a household.

Mandy Buhler works at Steinbach Family Resource Centre, is the mom of 5 children, and has some experience getting a household ready to go for the school year. She shared some tips and tricks on how to make the transition to the school year a little bit easier for everyone involved.

Summertime is about relaxing and that includes bedtimes and Buhler says her household practices moving up bedtimes the closer it gets to the first day of school. “One of the biggest things we do is adjusting our bedtimes back. And start getting into those routines where we start going to bed a little bit earlier.”

Moving bedtime from 9:30 PM to 9:00 PM and moving it earlier until it’s at the desired time for school nights. ‘That will help us get up earlier in the morning. Adjusting those bedtimes will be a big routine changer.’

Many parents dread making lunches for their kids and making a week’s worth of lunches at a time can be helpful according to Buhler. She also recommends packing the non-refrigerated items the night before to make it faster in the morning. ‘Or if you are ambitious enough, you can get the kids to make their own lunches.’

Finding ideas for what to make for lunch is taxing. Buhler shared about a friend that said, ‘I just don’t even bother with vegetables in their lunches, they can eat them at supper. So just skip the vegetables and put the fun food in at lunch and you’ll know they’ll eat it.’ Add those veggies and other foods they need to eat at the dinner table instead.

Buhler is a big believer in letting her kids pre-approve their school lunches. This results in her kids actually eating their lunches instead of throwing the food out or hiding it under their beds to avoid being caught not eating what had been made.

Heading back into school into a new classroom with new teachers and classmates, some kids experience anxiety not knowing all the details of what their year is going to look like Buhler recommends reaching out to your kid’s friends to find out what class they are in this year.

If your child’s school releases that information early, all it takes is a quick text or Facebook message to the parents of your kid’s friends to alleviate some stress about the upcoming school year. ‘I find with so many kids having extra anxiety this year with all covid and changes and masks and all these different things. The more information they can have about school, the better they will feel.’

Another suggestion to make mornings a little smoother as the school year starts involves making a checklist. Write out a list or make a visual list for the younger kids and laminate it. This list would consist of tasks that need to be taken care of to get ready in the morning.

Things like getting out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth. And each item gets checked off as it’s completed. This gives your kids a visual of how much they need to do in the time they have. ‘It takes away some of that nagging, it gives them ownership on the things that they need to do. And for kids that are younger and can’t read, it gives them a visual and they can have that independence and makes the morning easier.’

Make the back-to-school routine a little bit easier and try to implement one of these tips. Hear more tips in the podcast.