The holidays, vacation, whatever the reason, taking a break from everyday life can be so fun and refreshing, but the return to a regular schedule can be tough, especially on young children. During a vacation or break period, the rules are often relaxed. Maybe bedtime is later (or non-existent), maybe meals aren’t planned out in advance, or there’s more eating out, dinners with friends, take-out, pizza, you know… vacation life. Vacations are fun. Sometimes, returning to real life can feel like a let down for everyone.
How do you make the return to a routine after a break fun? Well, honestly, it’s not going to be as fun as vacation was, so that’s something we all have to accept and move on from. Still, you can successfully transition back to your regular schedule by slowly easing your family into the routine. If you come home the night before everyone returns to work or school, there will likely be vacation hangovers in the morning in the form of tired, cranky, parents and kids both. Giving yourself some breathing room between vacation and regular life is ideal, if possible.
Come home a day or two earlier. Do the laundry, prep meals, put away the suitcases, and have a quiet family day together. Get the kids back into their regular evening routine and to bed on time a few days before they are set to go back to school, and it will be easier for them to return.
Talk about how much fun vacation was. Acknowledge that it’s not as exciting to go back to work or school. Let the kids know you understand. Maybe look at pictures or videos together, ask everyone about their favorite memories of vacation and spend some time reminiscing. If you spent time with close friends or family, the kids might be missing them, too, in addition to missing being on vacation. If they saw their grandparents and it was a special treat, maybe talking about when you’ll see them again will help the kiddos.
Know that the first day back to school may be a tough transition day for them. They could be sad they’re leaving you after spending extra time together. They could be missing their grandparents or cousins. It could be a million different things. Help the kids look forward to the day by focusing on what they’re going to do at school, add a special treat to their lunchbox or a note, plan a special dinner for that night, whatever will help your kids look forward to the day. By getting them back on their schedule and helping them find something to look forward to that first day back, they’ll likely have a much smoother return to their routine, which should help you get to work on time and hopefully, without tears from either of you. 😉