Summer's Last Gap

Summer’s starting to wind down and you’ve probably started Back to School shopping in earnest. But what about squeezing in that last little bit of summer fun—those memories that will carry you through the coming long winter months—as you begin the transition from summertime school vacation free-for-all to routines and structure?

Summer Fun Days

I know it seems hard to believe that in just a few short weeks the kids will be back in school and the weekday routines will be established. But, in the meantime, how about some fun?

What’s the one thing that you intended to do this summer, but it never happened for whatever reason? If the activity is something you can still do, get on it! If you’ve checked off everything on your summer fun to-do list, then get creative and see if there might be something else to do, like a fun day trip.

Depending on your kids’ ages, there are lots of fun things to do right in the Twin Cities metro area. You could go to the Minnesota Zoo, The Children’s Museum, the Science Museum or Como Park Zoo. You could go to the beach, go on a bike ride to your favorite park or take a trolley tour. Go sightseeing, learn about the history of the area, or simply pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a day outdoors. You get the general idea—get out there and have an unforgettable day with the kids before summer is just a dim memory!

Transitioning back to school routines

Even if your children are looking forward to returning to school, getting back into a routine can be challenging. Kids typically have a later bedtime during the summer enjoying the freedom to play and be kids. Easing back to earlier bedtimes and a more structured schedule can take some effort on your part. One thing that often works is helping kids to understand how soon school will be starting—like a countdown to school—so they can grasp the timeframe for the impending changes.

Another way to help kids get back into the rhythm is actually going school shopping, rather than having the parents pick up the required school supplies or picking out clothes, etc. The act of participation in these activities helps children start thinking ahead, looking forward to seeing their friends on a daily basis, and envisioning the return to school.

A week or so before school starts, depending on the child’s actual sleep habits, you may want to begin easing bedtime back 15-30 minutes earlier. Keep it there for a few days then push it back again and hold for a few days. Repeat until bedtime is close to the actual bedtime your child will have when school resumes. Otherwise, changing a bedtime too abruptly is disruptive to the child’s sleep hygiene.

Recognize that the window on summer fun is closing rapidly and the time to begin the transition to school routines is just around the corner. Find something fun to do with the kids to create some lasting memories—going back to school can be traumatic for some kids, so anything you can do to ease anxiety about school and make the switch easier on your children, will make it easier on the entire family!