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September 1, 2016

6 Tips for Easing Back into Routine

Happy September! For most (children and adults!), the month of September and the Labor Day holiday comes with a lot of mixed emotions. Excitement for a new chapter, anxiety about change, sadness that “he’s not a baby anymore”, relief for the routine that fall brings, disappointed that summer is coming to an end– the list goes on.



For many families, the shift in routine includes a long list of to-dos; from adjusting bedtimes to mastering the art of lunch packing. Despite good intentions, families can still struggle with these new transitions weeks after the start of school.

According to Christina Fecio, Director of Education here at Doodle Bugs!, it’s not too late to help make the new routines and schedules easier for young children

“Transitions to back to school or into new routines can be stressful and takes time to adjust even after they go into effect. It’s perfectly normal for the adjustment to take weeks. The best advice for families is to stay patient and positive while you try these tips” Fecio said.

  1. For toddlers, comfort items, such as blankets, loveys, stuffed animals are all developmentally appropriate and help children feel secure and develop confidence. There is no need to force young children to give these items up, even after weeks of a new routine. Their need for the comfort items often remain all year long. When a child is ready to put them aside, they will. Taking them away can often cause trauma and disruption.
  1. Reading books about going to school and saying goodbye to parents, such as Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand or David Shannon’s David Goes to School can help children understand these actions and identify with them in a positive way.  If your child seems anxious or nervous about school, don’t read these books at bedtime. Read after dinner or at an earlier time of day, when you have time to talk through any questions or insecurities.
  1. Be realistic with bed time. Continue to adjust bedtime slightly, with some “quiet time” (stories and snuggles, ideally not screens because they can be stimulating) in advance of lights out. It might take a few weeks to move back to your preferred school schedule, but it will get there eventually.
  1. Bring a family photo to school.  Infant and toddler caregivers will display them at baby’s eye level or use them to create a book, while preschool and pre-K teachers will also use them to create matching games and add a familiar element to literacy centers.
  1. Say goodbye, ideally with a smile on your face. As tempting as it might be to sneak out of the classroom while your child is distracted, you’re teaching invaluable lessons about reliability, trust, and routines when you say, “I’m leaving now and will see you after work.” Your child learns that you’re true to your word and that you always come back.
  1. Be gentle with yourself. If cereal and fruit for dinner means a calmer, less frazzled parent and a more relaxed evening routine, go with it!