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Vacations. Pool days. Quality time with loved ones. Rest and relaxation. The carefree days of summer can bring about a reality check when the school year rolls around. For many families, fall means the start of new routines, activities, and milestones to reach — but it can be challenging to embrace a back-to-school mindset after a long season of fun.

To help you and your family transition smoothly into the new season, we asked several of our Life Time trainers and coaches for their best tips.

1. Start preparing early.

“With the carefree schedule of summer, getting back to early mornings can be rough! I like to start transitioning back to an early bedtime schedule a few days before the first day of school. This helps my kids get used to an earlier bedtime routine and makes the transition a little smoother.”

— Angela Chandler, Dynamic Personal Trainer, Life Time Frisco (Texas)
Kids’ ages: 6 and 10

2. Prioritize positivity.

“Our priority is a good mindset for the upcoming year. I like to use positive affirmations and continually check in with my daughter. This could be through talks during school drop-off and pickup or touching base at our favorite sushi restaurant at the end of the week.”

— Kemma Cunningham, class experience lead, Life Time Bridgewater (New Jersey)
Kid’s age: 12

3. Set goals together.

“The night before the first day of school, we have a tradition of gathering and setting family and individual goals for the school year. It always sets our year off on the right foot, serves as an opportunity to encourage our kids about how to treat others and try their best, and allows us to remind our kids how special and loved they are before diving into the stress and frenzy of another school year. Like everyone, kids’ emotional, physical, and mental health are so intertwined, so we make sure to check all the boxes before another school year commences.”

— Danica Osborn, group instructor and coach, Life Time Warrenville (Illinois)
Kids’ ages: 8, 10, 12, and 15

4. Encourage your kids to help.

“Once your kids are old enough, encourage them to help with new-routine tasks where they can. I like to write out a meal plan with easy and nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas that my daughter can put together herself. It gives her more independence.”

— Kemma Cunningham

5. Make your schedule visible.

“I have a whiteboard on wheels that we bring into the kitchen where everyone can see it. It has a weekly calendar that includes our schedule, as well as a weekly menu for dinner so I can plan ahead each evening. With five kids in three different schools, we have to be pretty on top of our schedule. The whiteboard gives everyone a visual on where they need to be and what they need to be doing. I put each kid’s activities in a different color, so they can find their color on the board and easily spot their items. I update the calendar every Sunday and we are ready to rock for the week!”

— Becca Rigg, group instructor and coach, Life Time New Hope (Minnesota)
Kids’ ages: 5, 8, 11, 14, and 16

6. Create a shared calendar.

“With eight kids, organization is key, especially since they are all in after-school activities. We use a shared family calendar app, and the older kids are tasked with putting all their practices and social events into the calendar. We also use it to reinforce daily structure. This includes daily and weekly chores or household tasks, homework, and time to practice at home for their various activities.”

Nick Errato, kids and aquatics new club openings national leader (North Carolina)
Kids’ ages: 2, 4, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, and 16

7. Rock out to a morning playlist.

“Having some good tunes playing in the morning in place of having the television on really sets a better tone for my kids’ moods and helps them get out the door on time. I’ll also diffuse some essential oils — usually either grapefruit and orange or cinnamon and orange — to help create a nice aroma first thing.”

— Anika Christ, RD, CPT, director of weight loss and nutrition for Life Time (Minnesota)
Kids’ ages: 4 and 8

8. Get prepped the night before.

“The best advice I can give is to do whatever you can the night before for a smooth morning, such as prepping lunches and snacks or ironing uniforms. We all have those mornings where things don’t go right. It’s peaceful knowing half the battle is already won. My family also likes to create a weekly calendar where we fill in special events, practices, and other activities so that everyone is on the same page.”

— Jamaal Sanderson (he/him), group instructor and coach, Life Time Charlotte (North Carolina)
Kids’ ages: 5 and 7

9. Make time to reconnect each day.

“While each day is different, we try to stick to a similar schedule and routine that sets the kids up for success. Since we are running around in different directions all day, family dinner time is a place for everyone to reconnect and share things about their day. We talk about the great moments, as well as any tough moments or opportunities we had to do better. We also take the time to talk about the following day, so everyone is aligned on what’s going on.”

— Nick Errato

10. Check your expectations.

“Remember this time of year can be a little fluid — if you get too rigid about rules or schedules, it’s easy to feel like you’re failing and cause more stress than is necessary. I think it’s important to take time each week and think through what’s working and what’s not. I’m a huge advocate for every parent really having some carved out ‘me time’ to help find calm in the chaos.”

— Anika Christ

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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