Tips for Changes in Routine (Free Downloadable)

March 23, 2022
Liz Gritzmacher, OT Student Intern
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Whether it’s taking a week off for spring break or coming back from a long summer vacation, transitioning back to our daily and weekly routines can sometimes be a challenge. At The Hello Clinic, the first two weeks after the holiday break nearly every parent expressed some struggles getting back into the swing of school. We decided to pull together some tips and tricks that can help kiddos transition back to school or daycare more smoothly and successfully after some time off. Click on the image below to download a pdf of the tips, or keep scrolling to read them all in text form.

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tips for changes in routine (text in post)


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Tip #1: Keep things consistent

  • If at all possible, try to keep the same bedtime and morning routines to maintain some consistency while not in school/daycare. 
  • Provide clear and concise cues when it gets close to bedtime.
  • Use visual supports such as a bedtime story or social story with your child.
  • Follow the same steps as usual (first put on pjs, then brush teeth, use bathroom, read story, etc).
  • Provide positive reinforcement when your child performs each step with a sticker or verbal praise.

Tip #2: Prepare

  • Make sure your kiddo(s) are given plenty of warning that school is coming up. Make a schedule and count down the days together.
  • Talk to your child/children about any fears or anxieties they may have. Make them feel heard and understood, then problem-solve together. 
  • Provide the option to tour a new school/classroom, or meet a new teacher before the first day of school.
  • Work with school personnel to ensure everything is in place to best support your child.
  • Purchase a new lunch box, outfit, or notebook to get them excited to go back to school.
  • Use positive affirmations like, “I can’t wait to hear about your first day back!
  • Set alarms for a few minutes early for the first week back to give your family some extra time in the morning. 
  • Give your kiddo a job for the mornings. Giving your child/children some responsibility for the morning can motivate them and build their self-confidence. 

Tip #3: Help the slow morning riser

  • Get a cold drink
  • Provide some alerting scents (citrus, eucalyptus, peppermint, or pine essential oils) or sounds (play a favorite upbeat song or make up a wake-up song to sing together).
  • Do some light stretching or self-massage to wake up the body.
  • Sensory brush/roller, or vibrating toothbrush to stimulate the skin/senses.
  • Eat breakfast with some crunchy foods to provide extra proprioceptive feedback.
  • Wrap them up like a burrito in their blanket for added pressure and a silly wake-up game.
  • Invest in a sunrise alarm clock that progressively gets brighter to ease you and your family into the day.
  • Bring a favorite item from home to the car/school to help with transitioning back to the classroom. 

Tip #4: Take care of yourself

  • Take some deep breaths in the morning or do some light stretching while sitting in bed before starting the day.
  • Don’t be afraid to try out some new things in the morning. What works one day, may not work the next. 
  • Set positive intentions or read an affirming quote each morning before starting the day.
  • Practice gratitude and give yourself some grace . . . you are doing great!

Transitions and changes in routine are hard for everyone. But before you know it, you'll all be back in the swing of things and maybe even looking forward to the next little school break or vacation!