Getting Back Into a Routine After Winter Break

Oh, the holiday season! Hopefully some time off work to reconnect with friends, family, and loved ones. The kids are out of school, and often times, our daily is routine is out of whack, or completely lost, by this time in the break. All that said, most youth will be returning to school or childcare within the next week or so. Though there might be some excitement to show off the goodies we may have received over the school break there is also probably some apprehension, or reluctance, to get back into the swing of things. Here are 4 ways to help that transition go a little more smoothly.


  • If you haven’t maintained your usual schedule, it’s time to get back to it. Often times, it’s even hard for adults to get back to their daily schedule after time off or a vacation. Youth also need that time for their bodies to adjust. So if bedtime has been later than usual, or pretty much nonexistent, it’s time for it to return. Instead of jumping right back into the routine by going back to the usual bedtime, it may be helpful to move it up little by little, between 15 minutes and 30 minutes each night or two. In addition, it’s likely that the youth has had more screen time than they typically have throughout the school week. Again, instead of a huge drop (say, from hours on end to 30 minutes a day), start cutting it down incrementally.
  • Start talking to them about going back to school. Not only do we need to prepare for a change in schedule physically, we also need to prepare for it mentally and emotionally. While we don’t want to talk about it incessantly because we all want to enjoy the last of our time off, it is also important for youth to remember that the vacation is nearing an end. It’s probably helpful if, at some point in each day, you talk to the youth about how many days are left before they go back to school.
  • Let them help you get prepared. Offer, or encourage, them to go grocery shopping with you. This will give them the opportunity to get the snacks and food items for lunch that they seem to enjoy. A day or two before they are scheduled to return, make sure that the outfit they wanted to wear for the first day back is clean and ready to wear. Locate the backpack that may have been been carelessly tossed into a corner or closet at the start of the winter break. Make sure all the school work in it is complete to prevent the last minute rush the night before, or the morning of, the first day back to school.
  • Finally, revisit their holiday break wish list. Have a conversation with the youth in order for them to identify the things they hoped to do over the school break, and within reason, help that come to fruition. Maybe they were hoping to connect with a friend and they haven’t seen them yet. Perhaps they wanted to do something special with you while you were home as well. These last few days of freedom are a great opportunity to connect in ways that you won’t be able to once everyone is back to their busy lives- engage them in play with their toys, challenge them to a game or two, watch a movie, or just sit, talk, and enjoy the ability to connect.