I hate to say it but its’ time to pack away those flip-flops and sun dresses. Bring on the mechanical pencils and 3-ring binders! School is almost back in session, and it’s time for kiddos to transition to a more structured schedule.

Heading back to school can be a stressful time for parents and kids, but planning ahead and talking through issues can help. I find the most stressful time of day the mornings, when kids are tried and usually running late. If your kids are having trouble waking up in the morning, make sure they’re getting the sleep they need. Check WebMD for age-appropriate requirements, than move up bedtime in 15 minute increments, until your kids are getting enough shut-eye.

To help the mornings go as smoothly as possible here are my top five tips:

  1. Kids aged 4+ can set an alarm clock for themselves. If they are “snoozers,” put the alarm clock across the room from the bed.
  1. Pack backpacks the night before.
  1. Use designated cubbies, bins, hooks or other organization systems to help your kids keep track of lunchboxes, raincoats, sports equipment, library books, homework, musical instruments, and anything else they might need to take to school. This will cut down on the scramble as the bus leaves and no running up and down stairs to track down library books on three levels.
  1. Get them to place lunchboxes in a designated spot to be filled in the morning.
  1. Minimize morning distractions. No TV, cell phones or iPads allowed.