If you’re dreading the back-to-school transition, you’re not alone. We are well aware how difficult it is to shift a kid from from late night barbecues and lazy mornings into waking up at 6:30 a.m.

Juggling earlier bedtimes, packing lunches and managing after-school activities can leave kids and their parents sleep-deprived and a little snarly.

One: Eat breakfast. You need it, and so does your kid. Whether it’s cereal, oatmeal, eggs, or dinner leftovers from the night before. That first meal is important for helping kids settle in and get ready to learn.

Two: Make sleep a priority, and lead by example. Remember that humans of all ages need a lot of sleep: adults and teens need at least 8 hours (some teens may need 10 or more), children under twelve need 9-12 hours a day, and preschoolers may need up to 13 hours a day (including naps).

Three: Make a bedtime routine for your kid. Take a bath, brush teeth, read a story, etc.

Four: No electronics before bedtime. This article from the Sleep Foundation suggests a digital curfew for adults and kids alike. If you have trouble falling to sleep, the Foundation suggests reading a paper book or non-backlit e-reader (like a Kindle Paperwhite) by lamplight, which doesn’t have the same stimulating effect on your eyes and brain as a backlit screen.

Five: Take a good look at your kids’ after school activities. Dr. Gwynetta M. Luckett, a pediatrician at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Kentucky, said that overscheduling can cause anxiety, stress and irritability.

“Children should be allowed to wind down and have downtime and possibly a snack after school prior to extracurricular activities,” Luckett said. “If they are showing signs of stress or are not enjoying particular activities, it may be time to prioritize or reduce some activities.”

Last, but not least: Talk to your kids. Ask them how they’re doing, then sit back and really listen. Make that time to sit with them without any distractions every single day.

You’re doing a good job, parents. Good luck jumping back into the school year with both feet.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Accountability and Mental Health

Patients have a direct role and responsibility in their mental health. A person could have years of counseling and medication services, yet if there is no accountability on the patient’s part then what good would they do? 

Depressed? It May Be the Time Change

A Danish study recently found that depression diagnoses go up significantly (8 percent) in the month following the change from Daylight Savings Time back to standard time.

Self-Compassion and Your Mental Health

Perfectionism — ever-unattainable! — is bad for your mental health. People who expect perfection are often overly critical of mistakes, which can lead to depression.

Medicating for Depression: the Basics

When someone comes to me with depression, the first decision we make together is whether we’ll treat with therapy, medication, or both. In my experience, a combination of the two is the most effective approach.