How to Get Your Children Back into a Routine After Vacation

For children, returning to their routine is a challenge. In this article, we list some strategies that can make the process an easier path.
How to Get Your Children Back into a Routine After Vacation

Last update: 09 January, 2022

Holidays are periods that we all enjoy. Indeed, during our busiest times, we dream of travel, free time with the family, or just having a rest. Children experience the same excitement. However, once the holidays are over, getting your children back into a routine can be a real challenge.

This isn’t an exaggeration. After all, while an adult’s vacation is usually only one week, children can enjoy up to a couple of months off school.

Therefore, getting your children back into a routine, after so long with no real schedules at all can be quite a challenge. Because, naturally, they’d far rather stay in their holiday routine with endless time for fun and games.

Ideas for children to return to a routine

After the holidays, when leisure and fun have completely taken over the child’s mind, comes the return to school and a proper timetable. How can you achieve this in a natural and non-traumatic way? Actually, it might not be as difficult as you think.

“Today was a happy day. Just routine.”

-Mario Benedetti-

Create periods of adaptation

This is quite simple. However, you must remember that most children don’t accept sudden change well and live more calmly within a routine with boundaries. Therefore, during the last days of your vacation, the ideal is to start making small changes in family schedules, routines, and daily habits.

With an adaptation period for them to resume a routine, you increase the window of opportunity for them to get used to the changes. For example, returning to school will be easier if they’ve been eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner and going to bed at the same time for a while before school restarts.

Baby eating

Gradual change

When altering a schedule, you shouldn’t introduce too many changes at once. In fact, it’s best to go one step at a time, two at the most. Once your children have internalized the change, then you can move on to the next step.

If you carry out this process gradually, in a few days your child will be fully adapted. Therefore, if they woke up at ten before, now you can introduce the change and have them get up at nine. Once they get used to it, you can introduce the next change.

Priorities

It’s important to prioritize and use this hierarchy to make decisions regarding routine changes. Generally, you should start with the hourly adjustments, which are usually the most difficult. Adjust the eating and sleeping routines first, followed by the rest.

In this sense, you have to work on when they go to bed, when they get up, when they eat and when they nap. It’s important that they master these changes before you introduce any more.

Anticipation

It’s essential that they expect the change. After all, as an adult, you know when the holidays are over and the school year is approaching. Therefore, your children should also be informed if they’re to resume their routine without problems and you should talk with them about what’s going to happen. In this way, you’ll reduce some of their uncertainty.

In addition, you can add the habits that we mentioned earlier, and gradually implement them until it’s time to start the proper routine. By then, they’ll be fully adapted and any changes will be minimal.

Positive attitude

It’s certainly important to stay positive. Indeed, as an adult, you know it can sometimes be difficult to adapt to changes in your habits and routines.

Therefore, make sure that your children don’t latch onto any kind of pessimism from you regarding their return to school. In fact, if they hear you being negative they’ll more than likely start to feel the same way.

Constant support and active listening

This is one of the most difficult things to do but also the most valuable. It involves keeping the communication channels open. In other words, paying attention to your children when they feel nervous or afraid, encouraging them, and taking advantage of any moments in which they’re willing to talk to you.

In this way, you can talk to them, listen to them, and convey to them that, whatever happens, they can count on you and that, together, you can overcome any difficulty that might come your way.

Mother talking to her son

Involve them in the process

If they’re involved in the changes, it won’t be so hard for your children to get back into a routine. In fact, they should be a part of the whole process. For example, they can go with you to buy their school supplies or new school clothes.

In addition, in this way, you’ll generate opportunities to understand how they’re feeling and what their fears might be, giving you valuable clues to help them later. Ask them if they’re looking forward to seeing their school friends. Find out what lessons they’re looking forward to and those that they aren’t. Find out how they’d react to certain situations they might encounter.

These are all questions that are important in helping them. Their answers will give you specific information that’ll help you to help them. After all, while there are some general guidelines, every individual child is different.

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  • Gallego Ortega, J. L., Fernández Haro, E. (2003). Enciclopedia de Educación Infantil. Archidona (Málaga): Editorial Aljibe.