The month of August in our home is the "No Schedule" month. The kids are officially out of day camp. School hasn't started and it seems to be the furthest thing from our kids' minds. We usually take the kids on a vacation somewhere with the whole family during this time. We let them swim till it gets dark, and no sleeping curfew applies. As a mom, I enjoy this time and find us making memories that will last forever: from camping in the back yard, to making s'mores, to riding the water slides together at an amusement park! Having these moments with our children leads us to the hard part: getting everyone back on schedule for the start of school in September. I'm a mom of four, and scheduling is the only way my family functions successfully!
Every child has an after-school activity (if not two). Once the school year begins, we go from living without a care to each morning checking the chalk wall schedule and finding where each child needs to be after school. I not only find myself looking over it with a cup of coffee, but my children seem to find a sense of calm when heading out the door knowing what their day entails. Before my large chalk wall was filled with the daily schedule, friendly reminders, rules to remember, and motivational pictures and quotes, I often heard: "Mom, what do I have today?" (Sometimes, six to eight times before breakfast was finished!) Having a visual schedule makes it easier not only for the kids, but babysitters, nanny and Daddy.
This year, my 5-year-old will be attending kindergarten. This is a big milestone that needs preparation. After K-graduation, I felt she was prepped for the next big step, but after the fun of summer she seemed to have forgotten. I knew I couldn't just spring the new class, new teacher and new school on my child the night before the first day. So, last month I began prepping with back-to-school books, which helped with a visual explanation.
Our daughter began to show signs of worry and nervousness at the end of the month when we began to read the books and pack the backpack. Still, I cannot stress this statement enough: A nervous child comes from the parent! If we make it a worry in the home or begin to obsess over the issue, then our child senses the stress and begins to worry.
Absolutely every child should be properly prepped for such a huge milestone in their lives, but when the worry begins to show on the parent, the child begins to act on the emotions they are getting. I try to be as calm as possible. I know, as a mother, I'm always worried my child will feel safe and comfortable in any environment but I also remember she will be there all year and have plenty of time to get comfortable. Even if there is crying and kicking and screaming on the first day (it can start once you leave the driveway of your home), I know that day by day it gets easier.
Another thing that is important is trust. Trust in the faculty, teachers and aides who are caring for our children. A crying and kicking child is probably not the first they have dealt with and also won't be the last.
Once we get back on schedule in September and the children are prepped for starting a new class, the key to a happy child is sleep! I have yet to meet a child who never sleeps and doesn't wake up cranky or crashes midway through the day. To have a full, successful day at school, one must get a good night's rest.
It's easier to write that here than to actually do it. As a mom of four, I have dealt with the child who refuses to sleep alone, the sleepwalker, the bed jumper and the bed wetter all resulting in 2:00 a.m. parties in my room. Routine in the sleep schedule is the best way to get positive results. You can't give in one night and say they can sleep with you. You can't let the kids stay up a little later to watch a movie. You can't allow sleepovers during the week. I know a child must stay on the same routine throughout the week. I promise it makes for a happier mom and happier child.
I hope my tips help you through the back-to-school blues of getting back on schedule. Please remember I'm not an expert 0 -- who is? I'm just a mom of four who wants you to know you're not alone.
Amber Sabathia is the creator and designer of CCandy, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the PitCCh In Foundation, a wife and mother of four, ages 4-10.
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This post originally appeared in 201 Magazine.