Parenting|

7 Ways To Smooth The Transition Between Home & School

This transition is not just a movement from one space to another — it’s also a massive mental shift.

by Team Scary Mommy

If your kids are anything like mine, they struggle with transitions from one activity to the next. And the toughest daily transition for most kids is the one from home to school and back. That’s because they’re not just moving from one space to another — they’re also experiencing a mental shift, from a classroom environment with its specific energy and expectations to their cozy, familiar home that has a whole different energy and set of expectations. There’s a reason kids often melt down right after school!

There’s no perfect solution for transitions, but you can definitely make them easier. Building a predictable routine with fun elements incorporated can go a long way to smoothing the passage between home and school. Read on for seven of our favorite tips to make the school-home transition easier on the whole family.

Make Time For Breakfast At Home

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Getting kids of any age out the door and to school on time should be an Olympic medal event because sneakers can’t be found and someone’s knotted hair is causing a breakdown and the sun isn’t even up yet. But breakfast is still the most important meal of the day (we don’t make the rules), so ya gotta make it happen.

I just discovered Daisy Cottage Cheese Fruited Single Serves, and I’m in love. They’re sweet, creamy, and deliciously fruity, and require zero prep or cleanup. In a pinch, they can be eaten in the car on the way to school, and since they come in strawberry, pineapple, peach, and blueberry, there's a flavor for every palate. A protein-packed breakfast goes a long way to keeping kids in a chiller mood through transitions and beyond.

Set Aside A Few Minutes Just For You Before Waking Up The Kids

When I first wake up, before I speak to anyone else in my household, I listen to a song and check my social media (don’t judge — it wakes me up!). Then I’m ready for human interaction. For other parents, a cup of coffee does the trick, or 5 minutes of silent meditation, or even a workout. The thing is, you’re a human first, parent second. You deserve a minute to yourself before you start doing All The Things for everyone else.

Get Your Mind Right Before Getting In The School Pickup Line

Our energy has a massive impact on our kids’ mood. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfectly chipper all the time. It just means, in those moments of transition that are toughest for kiddos, it helps for us to be fully present. If I’m stressing over something that happened at work or the stack of to-be-read mail on my counter, I’m not in the right mindset to handle whatever mood my kids may be in. A few minutes of ‘90s pop music, an audio book, or just plain ol’ silence are all great for resetting your mood.

After School, Allow Space To Unwind

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You know how, after a long day of work, whether that work takes place in an office or at home, the last thing you want is for someone to bark at you to do more things, right now, or else? Kids don’t like that either. Contrary to what many of us were taught as kids, homework doesn’t have to be done the moment a kid gets home from school. Allow them to take a break and have a protein-rich snack to ease afternoon hunger, read a book, or, yes, even play a video game. As long as expectations are clear, it’s 100% OK for your kid to have a break between school and homework.

Play Soothing Or Upbeat Music

Music is an incredible tool for managing energy and atmosphere, including for our kids when they have to switch from School Mode to Home Mode. Redirect some of that feeling of being untethered and “in between” with music. Let your kids’ mood guide your genre choice — some days you may go for chill classical and others you may blast hip hop. Go with what feels right!

Prioritize The After-School Snack

Have you ever witnessed an extremely grumpy child sit to eat a snack, and about four bites in, they completely transform into a not-grumpy child? It’s a miraculous thing to behold. The transition from school to home falls in that perilous zone of “hanger” (hunger + anger) when kids haven’t eaten for hours and dinner is still hours away and they will explode if you accidentally blink in their direction. Whip up a cottage cheese snack with celery or crackers for dipping or chopped cucumber on top, and BAM, you’ve got your sweet kid back.

Have As Many Steps Ready As Possible The Night Before

As annoying as it can be to add yet another chore to your nightly list, having outfits laid out at the foot of the bed, homework tucked into folders, and shoes stowed alongside backpacks will save you from the dreaded search-for-the-missing-homework that has made every parent late at one time or another. Better yet, build this prep into the kids’ bedtime routine. You’ll be teaching responsibility and making mornings less chaotic. Win-win!

Transitions are hard, for kids and adults alike. But a little planning ahead and keeping yummy snacks on hand can do a lot to make mornings and afternoons manageable.

Photographer: Maria Be

Art Director: Julie Vaccaro

Prop Stylist: Adri Suarez

Food Stylist: Molly Corrigan

Wardrobe Stylist: Heather Newberger

Hair and Makeup: Maya René

Production: Danica Butkovich