If you have superhuman self-control, and can have the device near your bed, you could try a sleep-cycle app that monitors your sleep and helps you determine the best time to wake up—but really, an old-fashioned simple alarm clock, your parents, or a pet that wants breakfast is the best alarm.
One thing that may help you de-stress and get a good night’s sleep AND will help the morning go more smoothly is taking a relaxing bath or shower the night before.
Consider making it a rule to eat a healthy snack and get some sort of exercise before starting homework. Kids often need a period of transition and relaxation when they get home from school. If they start immediately on homework or jump into fun screen time, they may not be at their most alert and efficient for the rest of the afternoon and evening. A routine of skateboarding, basketball, or biking outdoors—or dancing or yoga indoors—whatever gets them moving a little—will help energize them and make homework time easier.
Low Tech Prep: Handmade Fun
For young kids who are walking or taking a bus to and from school for the first time, spend a morning or afternoon creating a cool, illustrated map of the route and walking or driving it a couple of times so it becomes familiar. Find a friend in the neighborhood who will be your kid’s bus buddy or walking buddy as they get used to the new route. They may find other friends to walk and ride with later, but it’s great to start out with someone they know.
Walk around a new school, play on the playground or sports fields a few times, and look at photos of teachers online so that the school doesn’t feel strange on Day One.
Sometimes it’s non-academic things that stress us out the most, so spend a few hours at lunch or dinner brainstorming about the kind of extracurricular clubs and teams you might want to try and the service projects you want to do, if your school includes service as a requirement.
Make a COOL IDEAS folder for all the kids and hang up in their rooms or a common family area. Anyone in the family can toss in photos, articles from magazines, or random notes whenever they find something that might be helpful for school or extracurricular projects. For example, if you know your son likes getting outdoors in the mud and needs a community service project, clip out the calendar of watershed clean-up days and put it in the folder. If your daughter has to write and illustrate a paper on the Odyssey, jot down information about an art exhibit on ancient Greece you saw in a magazine. Set a time each week to sort through the folders and choose the ideas you’ll act on.
DIY Day: Think of something you know you’ll need when October, November, and December roll around and do a family craft night now, when you’re more relaxed than you’re likely to be in the middle of the fall. Make cute scarves and hand-warmers for cold morning walks to school out of fleece and rice. Get started on Halloween costumes. Make pennants you can wave at school football or basketball games. Create a place to display photos, playbills, and memories on kids’ bedroom walls using fishing line and clothespins or a DIY bulletin board out of an old picture frame.
Ahhhh, now we’re ready for the learning to start!
Shelley Sperry, with Mari Frost