Back to School Transition isn’t just for Kids

“Brett, starting Monday, we are going to work on getting back on your school year sleep schedule.”

I mentioned to my son last night at dinner.

“So do you mean I can’t read at night?”

“No, you can still read” I replied, “you can read, just until maybe 10.

If we wait until the first day of school to practice waking early, you’ll be miserable.”

A boy and his book...

A boy and his book…

We came home a little over a week ago, from visiting his Grandma in California.

And while you would think we would be well-accustomed to the Eastern time zone by now, it just hasn’t happened. He found two book series (Seven Wonders, (thanks to Mary for the recommendation) and the The Secrets of the Immortal Nicolas Flammel) he can’t seem to put either down. We have had to visit the Northshire Bookstore every few days this week, in search of the next book, and then the next.

What’s happening?

While we think he is going to bed around 10 pm, in reality, he has been falling asleep at 1am (light still on, book next to him), and waking around 11 the next day.

Curbing the enthusiasm of a boy who loves to read isn’t something a parent really likes to do.

And actually, since I work best in the morning, I kind of like that quiet time to get work for my job done.

No complaints of “I’m hungry”. Or “what if’s”. Or “Mom look!” every 5 minutes.

Just quiet.

This doesn’t get me a mother-of-the-year award, since deep down I love this schedule. Have actually encouraged it.

It’s really a win/win, since by the time he wakes, I’m almost done with work and ready to play.

I kept thinking, we’ll just right ourselves a week before school starts.

And so here we are, a week before school starts.

Yikes, how did that happen so fast?!

Back at the table, Brett gets visibly anxious about what’s in store for him next week.

He questions us about how early exactly he’ll need to wake up.

How much reading he’ll be able to get in.

How much time he’ll be able to play outside.

How he’ll have to go back to strict time limits on Minecraft.

And then finally, goes back to a heated debate from last year about not-enough-recess time in a school day, and how it’s


“You know Brett, it’s not just you who has to make changes. It’s me too”.

“I have to start waking at 6 am, to make your lunch and get you ready for the day. It has been awhile since I have done that.

And I have to go to bed earlier.

Sleep has been an issue for me lately–getting enough. So I’m a little stressed about that.”

He paused.

“I didn’t know that Mom.”

The discussion dwindles to a silence as he goes back to his dinner.

It’s kind of odd, we always think about late August/early September as the start of the school calendar, and a fresh start for kids. And January is the start for the rest of us, you know, for those New Years resolutions and goals and re-evaluating all the parts of our lives we wish to make better.

Kids don’t realize it.

And sometimes we forget it too.

The start of the school calendar is a big change for us as parents. It requires a lot of transition on our end, and can be an important time for new beginnings.

All summer, I put off promises to myself, thinking once Brett goes back to school, I’ll have more time to focus. I can’t possibly think about anything on the peripheral while:


Dealing with different camp schedules.


Setting up playdates.

And when we have an unscheduled week at home? It’s the two of us, not just me. I want the summer to be fun. And meaningful.

Collecting a few Chanterelle Mushrooms this week in the National Forest.

Collecting a few Chanterelle Mushrooms this week in the National Forest.

We want to be outside playing in the river.

Taking hikes and looking for insects or berries or mushrooms or creatures..

Going to museums.

Working in the garden.

I don’t want him to do chores and errands with me all day.

While I know boring stuff is a part of life he should be exposed to this somewhat, I’d like to keep it to a minimum as these activities aren’t meaningful or enriching experiences for either of us.

Brett & Me: Best Portrait from this summer...

Brett & Me: Best Portrait from this summer…at the Exploratorium in CA

I look at my to-do list and see things like:

Bring car into shop for checkup

Make sure all Doctors appointments are up-to-date and if not, call for appointments

Make sure pets aren’t due for the Vet.

Make hair-cut appointment

Start multiple home-repair projects

and then something long, long overdue:

Get together with long-lost friends I haven’t seen since early June.

Wouldn’t that be nice!

Yup, I’m waiting until August 27th. I’ll get it all done!

There are other promises I have told myself I’d deal with once school starts. They are not chores really, just personal-focus type goals that tend to slide during the summer months on the nutrition and exercise front.

After a few years of thinking about this, I know this is going to happen. None of it is unexpected, I even wrote about my lack-of-structure a few months ago, and how I’m ok with it,

Our favorite find this year: Gray Tree Frog Gilbert (named after the Familiars book series)

Our favorite find this year: Gray Tree Frog Gilbert (named after the Familiars book series)

But it’s still tough to get back in sync when the time comes.

I read it takes 21 days to build a habit–but it takes that long to lose it too, and I have definitely developed some bad ones, and lost some good ones over the last two months.

So, once school starts, I need to:

Get a handle on SLEEP (why am I waking so much every night?)

Get a handle on nutrition & quantity control (it’s not intuitive for me, that’s for sure!)

Be more focused with work by setting structured work times and work space in the house.

Blog? What blog? This summer, one post a month? I’d like to do better.

Exercise has been status quo–how can I challenge myself?

This morning, cool fall air streams through the open windows, as my husband and I pour ourselves that first cup of coffee and sit down to start the wake-up routine.  He looks out the window and sees the wind whipping through the trees.

“No, please no wind! I need some sun too.”

Out came the iPad to check the weather.

“This fall” he tells me, “I need to get going on writing and taking photos.”

So, it’s not just me.

With all the travel he has had for work these last few months, there’s a big project that needs some attention on his end too,

And he’s hoping to restart today by chasing down a Mayfly hatch or two, and hooking a few trout to photograph–something that hasn’t been so easy lately on our little back-yard river.

If the wind dies down. And the sun comes out, of course.

Let’s hope for his sake, it does.


The start of the school year, it’s not just a new start for the kids.


How does your life  and schedule get put on hold during the summer months?

What promises have you made for yourself starting this fall?

If you haven’t made any new goals, it’s a great time to start!


Hope you all have a great start to the new season!


8 thoughts on “Back to School Transition isn’t just for Kids

  1. As an empty nester with older kids I don’t have to deal with those issues much anymore but vividly remember them-no time to workout, bad (really bad) hair, house projects thrown by the wayside. The issues we have now are the kids wanting to sleep until noon, play on the computer, stay up until 2:00 a.m. which frustrates my husband to no end. He wants to see some productivity! I realize though that these days are so precious and soon enough, reality will hit them in the face with internships, jobs, bills and all those adult things. This causes friction with the whole family so sending him off to college makes for a much more peaceful home life even though I’m kick the chicks out of the nest.

    • Angie, sounds so similar to this situation too. Even at my son’s age (9), we battle the computer issue too. This summer I have just been happy there is a ton of reading along with the video games and the outside stuff….I think overall, it’s too much but at least balanced. School is such a shock to our systems, because of all the structure, you are right, the days are precious and it should be ok to let them live a little…thanks so much for your comment, love to hear from you!

  2. Oh, this will hit me hard in 2 days when my son returns after a month at camp. I’ve been missing him, but also making the most of all the adult/couple and me time. I think it’s great to tell him about how the change will affect you, too.
    My son really needs structure and, though he’s had some form of it at camp, he tends to fight it at home. We need to get him into home structure before school starts on Sept 2 and before I restart work on the 8th. I’m more free-spirited than my husband and have always had a bit more of a relaxed approach but I see now that that has led to me putting things off and then getting all flustered and panicked and stressed. So, without our son here, we have agreed on a schedule for cleaning the house (Friday nights now) and on how the rest of the weekends will go. I think it’s important to be clear about these things so that there is no doubt and little argument; it’s just the way things will happen. And it’s a good idea to start getting him adjusted ahead of time.
    As for the reading, that is great, and hard to cut down (though I do value a well-rested kid slightly more!). We have 1 Nicholas Flammel (great success) but will have to look into the other one you mention. We’re still working our way through the Heroes of Olympus right now but I’d love to swap reading lists!

    • I’m so envious you have an extra week to get ready! We all tend to need structure too–I have realized I’m included in that too. This is probably why my work schedule has been so erratic and I feel like I’m doing too much. Once it’s condensed in the school day, it’ll be much better. But one thing that worries me is the lack of sleep: I tend to stay up until 11 w/my husband so we have an hour or so after the boy goes to sleep, but then waking at 6 doesn’t give me enough sleep. If I go to sleep earlier, I never get to talk to him?! Will have to figure this one out….So we tried the go-to-sleep thing last night, and it was tough!:pts of complaints. He was in bed but I could still hear him humming to himself after 11 when we went to sleep :). Not reading, but humming…we’ll see if he gets up any earlier today, somehow I doubt it! So reading: for the family read we are on the 2nd book of Lord of the Rings–if he hadn’t finished Heroes, we’d be on those too but we are eagerly awaiting the new one that’s coming out in October!

      • Hm I can see your evenings are squeezed! Our boy has lights out at 8. He needs his sleep! He doesn’t always fall asleep right away but we’ve gotten cross with him for sneakily reading after lights out – which of course encourages him to want to read more – so he hums too! Though not as late as 11 and he wakes up naturally at 6. Maybe try getting Brett up early a couple mornings. He’ll want to go to sleep earlier after that!

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