Back to School Routine

Tips to Help You Ease the Transition Back to School

Do you have a Back to School Routine? I’m talking about a plan to prepare you and the kids for life after summer break?

In our house, the back to school routine begins over the last few weeks of summer break. That’s how I grew up and how I am raising my daughter. Like my mother, I am convinced that the key to easier mornings is practicing ahead of time.

When thinking about a routine for your family, start by thinking about the pain points you experienced last year.

If you don’t have a back to school routine, please read on for some tips to get you started.

Do You Need a Back to School Routine?

Do you need a back to school routine? Depends on your family. However, I believe that most busy families can benefit from one.

Having a schedule provides structure and consistency and helps define expectations.

Creating patterns of behavior in your kid’s minds helps with independence and self-sufficiency, thereby taking a little off your back.

The more you can involve all members for family in keeping the ship afloat, the greater your chances of preventing parental burnout.

Back to School Routine Tips

What’s a good routine for school?

Each family will likely have different needs based on personality and schedule. More structure may be required for busier families. If you’re prone to procrastination, you may need guidance in other ways.

The back to school routine tips shared here will help all families find a way forward in the easiest way possible.

Summer Break

As summer break begins to wind down, it’s time to start getting ready for school.

For one thing, you may need to start or finish school shopping (clothes and supplies). Outside of that, it’s time to get the kids back on their school year sleep/ wake schedules.

How far did you relax the rules over the summer? Hopefully, your kids haven’t strayed too far from what they’re used to the rest of the year.

  • Bedtime: Send the kids to their rooms, turn off devices and say goodnight at the same time you will for school. If they enjoyed a lot of freedom over the summer, you may need to work your way toward bedtime in 10-15 minute increments.

Alarm: In the morning, get them up when they will awake for school. Serve breakfast and get dressed.

Work through the kinks now.

In our house, it will be over an hour earlier than she had to wake up for school last year! This is a big change for a little kiddo, so we are definitely preparing in advance of the big day.

There may be grumbles, especially for older kids. But, better to deal with them now than when you have no time for discussion once school starts.

I suggest you give yourselves a 2-week window to get things back on track.

Consider it a practice run or rehearsal for the school year. I promise you it will make things much easier all-around.


Busy parents know that you rely on the weekend to help position you for a successful week.

It’s supposed to be a time for rest and rejuvenation, but there’s a lot of stuff to do. The weekend provides blocks of time for you to organize yourself and the family for what’s to come.

Make your weekly preparation time easier by doing it over the weekend.

  • Meals: Like lunch, breakfast and dinner can benefit from weekend meal prep. Pre-cut veggies, season proteins, make soups and stews. Make and freeze muffins and breakfast burritos. Plan leftovers or breakfast for dinner on busy nights.
  • Plan Outfits: Knowing what your child will wear all week is next level organization. Place completed looks on hangers and set to the side for easy to access in the morning. If not done over the weekend, the night before also helps.
  • Chores: It may be difficult to keep the house clean as you rush in and out everyday. It’s likely that things will pile up for later. The weekend is later. Plan to tackle household chores as a family first thing Saturday morning. That way you still have time for fun.

Still in need of more efficiencies? Be sure to read Time Management for Single Moms for ideas to make life easier.

back to school routine- school lunch meal prep ideas: cubes of cheese (cheddar, pepperjack), cut veggies (celery sticks, green pepper strips, carrot sticks, cauliflower), full lunch in green plastic container with carrot sticks, sandwich, small cup of mixed nuts, small cup of berries, banana, bunch of grapes, bottle of orange juice, bottle of milk)
Photos by: (clockwise) ivanmateev and huasui, Getty Images and oleksandranaumenko

Lunch Prep Ideas

Keeping a well-stocked kitchen makes meal preparation much easier. It’s especially helpful when you don’t have time to run to the store for supplies.

If your kid is like mine, they are picky about what they will eat. This makes packing lunches an easier undertaking. It may be more work for kids open to variety.

Prepare what you can in advance. Depending on what you have planned, you may be able to get away with pre-packing several days ahead of time.

Of course, available containers also come into play here. If you aren’t using a dedicated lunch box, I recommend an insulated lunch bag with meal prep containers.

Given the potential for younger kids to absentmindedly throw things away, shop for inexpensive, yet durable containers. If you’re lucky, they will make it home to be washed and reused.

  • Cut Meat & Cheese: ex. cube/ slice/ cut- cheese, salami, pepperoni… make meat and cheese roll-ups
  • Wash Fruit: If bagging for lunch, wash then place in bags. Otherwise, just wash and leave in the container for packing later. (ex. berries, grapes, cherry tomatoes, etc.)
  • Cut Veggies: If bagging, cut, wash then place in bags. Otherwise, prepare then place in a container in the fridge. (ex. pepper strips, broccoli, cucumber spears, carrots, snap peas, etc.)
  • Bag Snacks in Individual Servings Parcel: You can do this when you buy the box and put the little baggies back in the box to grab when needed (ex. crackers, pretzels, cookies, etc.)
  • Boil Eggs
  • Bake Treats

That’s just a few ideas to get you started. Dinner leftovers are great additions to lunch too. Kids will be excited for slice of pizza from time-to-time.

And, don’t forget to write a sweet, little note to include as well.


The return of the school year means the return of a full schedule of events for the kids and you too.

Balancing after school activities for the kids, appointments and meetings at the school can be challenging.

If you haven’t done so, I recommend starting a family calendar. Put it in the kitchen, the central hub of the home. Assign a color to each member of the family and mark down everything you have going on.

Discuss the calendar as a family over dinner on Sunday and set expectations for the week. Understanding the everyone’s responsibilities makes guiding the ship easier.

Of course you can keep track of things with an app, but having it on the wall makes for quick reference for everyone. Knowing what’s ahead of you for the week helps with meal planning and homework.

  • Homework: When possible, prioritize the kids completing their homework when they come home. This is more of a challenge with after school sports and activities, so you may need to find creative ways to fit it in. Avoid late nights and, as much as possible, maintain their sleep schedule.
  • Pack Lunches: If you aren’t able to pack lunches on Sunday, do it when you’re making dinner. You’re already in the kitchen and likely have a little down time waiting for dinner to be ready.

Back to School Routine In a Nutshell

Getting into a back to school routine will help the family stay organized and on-time during the busy week.

By adjusting back to your school time sleep/ wake schedule towards the end of summer, you and your kids will have a smoother transition when it’s go time.

Make the most of the chunks of time you have to prepare everything you need for a successful week. Choose outfits for the week when laundry is being done over the weekend. Prep lunch time staples over the weekend as well for quick assembly Monday-Friday.

While making dinner, put everything for lunch in the lunch box. Finally, use a family calendar to keep everyone ‘in the know’ about what’s ahead of you for the week.

Remember to allow time for adjustments as your family works its way back to the reality of the school year. With a little patience and cooperation, what starts off as a challenge will soon have you running like a well-oiled machine.

How do you prepare to go back to school in your family? Share your best tips in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Back to School Routine”

  1. I’ll be honest, I hate the back to school routine because that signals the end of the school holidays and somehow it never feels long enough to fit all our plans in haha.

    So important to ease into the routine and and allow for adjustment time. I’m pretty lax with bed times during the holidays (as long as its no later than 10) so about 2 weeks before, we start the half 8 bed time again and 7am rise. My son hates it haha but after about 10/12 days, you’d never know he as he’s snoozing in bed before half 8 most of the time haha.

    These are such great tips for getting back into a routine. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jordanne, I can’t tell you how much I LOVE that you do the adjustment to the bedtime and morning wake up too! I seem to be alone with that one in my real life. When I was a kid, I complained about it because it does make it feel like vacation is over. But, it really did help prepare me for the school year. Everyone, parents included need to get back to a different kind of rhythm for the school year and easing into it slowly is the way to do it. Thanks so much for reading!

      ~ Cassie

  2. My daughter starts school in a few weeks, so it’ll definitely be good to get her back into a routine. We’ll have to start working on her bedtime and also getting up early.

    1. Hi Karalee. Good for you. I highly recommend scooting that bedtime back to help prepare for school. It helps to go through the morning routine as well if you’ve relaxed wake up times. I, for one, am not looking forward to this adjustment for us. Bedtime, no problem. But our morning is starting so much easier and my daughter is one that eases into her day. No chance of that, we have to go as soon as her feet hit the floor. Good luck, I hope your daughter adjusts quickly and it’s painless for both of you.

      ~ Cassie

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