A young girl with a surprised look on her face

From Holidays to School Days: A Game Plan for Getting Back to a Routine


We started the first day of school in the fall with happy butterflies. Lunch boxes were packed with fresh produce and lovingly prepared sandwiches. The kids, mom and dad were all smiles.

After just a couple days, the excitement wore off. My kids went from chattering about their exciting days on the car ride home to falling asleep before we rolled to the first stop sign. Soon, there were tears at preschool drop-off (a trend that continued for eight long days), and lunches became haphazardly thrown together on the way out the door.

Routines — love them or hate them – are hard to start. Just when we’re finally finding our groove, chugging along through the school year, we get two weeks off. Likewise, when that long vacation ends, as good things always do, we struggle to get everything in motion again.

I’m not an official expert on routines and organizing, but I am in charge of both at my house. Admittedly, it got a little harder to color code my life when both kids entered school full-time and when I took on five jobs, including grad school. But, everyone still gets where they need to be each day — so I’m calling that a win.

Here’s my organizational game plan for heading back to school after the winter break.

  1. Don’t procrastinate. Raise your hand if you have a project due the first week back! Don’t wait until the night before to sign papers, finish projects or read assignments. Even if they don’t have holiday homework, you can keep concepts fresh in your mind with learning disguised as fun.
  2. Practice. It may be only a drill, but practice going to bed at the usual school-night bedtime a few nights before the real deal. This will make it easier for kids to fall asleep when it counts and wake up easier on those early school days.
  3. Refresh back-to-school organization. Happy New Year means it’s time for a new calendar or planner. Snag one on the cheap after the first of the year and jot down important dates for the remainder of the school year (practices, school holidays, meetings, etc.). Keep up any organization tricks that are working for your family, but if you tried something in the fall that was a major fail (like making lunch the night before was for me), kick it to the curb and try something new.
  4. Recognize a need for a brain break. I am very much on board with the work before play mentality. But on those days when my kids have no energy left to give even after an afterschool snack, I suggest a little playtime outside (or inside for those especially wintery days) before we get down to the business of homework. Added perk — I get to be cool mom for a minute.
  5. Restock school supplies. When I was in school, nothing motivated me more than new school supplies — there’s just something about fresh crayons. Replace worn out supplies before heading back.

For ideas on how to make winter vacation quality time for your kids, check the school, as well as your installation for events or camps. And don’t forget Military OneSource offers education consultants who can help you and your kids finish the school year strong!

Kristi Stolzenberg
Written By Kristi Stolzenberg
Marine Spouse

Kristi started writing for Blog Brigade as a new Milspouse in 2008, and all of a sudden, she’s a seasoned (but not overly salty) Marine spouse.

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