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How to Enjoy Summer and Then (Painlessly) Go Back to School

By July 8, 2024Lifestyle, Parenting
enjoy the summer and painlessly go back to school

Summer can be a time for relaxing your family’s routine, and fitting in more fun.  While hurried mornings and full schedules may now seem too distant to think about, your early alarm will become a reality before you know it.  Wouldn’t you rather ease into it?  To set up your kids for scholarly success and avoid the pain of re-entry, take some time now to make a few adjustments to your summer days off school.

Give Yourselves Enough Time

Your biggest advantage is time.  How much time you need largely depends on the individuals in your family and how easily you each revert to the school schedule.  Think of it this way, the school year is like a marathon.  You can’t expect to perform well in a marathon if you only prepare the weekend before!  Parents and kids typically need two weeks to a month of preparation to get back into a routine.

Avoid the Summer Free-For-All

Maybe your first question is: “How do we start preparing for back-to-school without ruining our summer break?”  The answer is: Don’t let the rule-relaxing go to extremes.  Summertime is for fun, excitement and a change of pace, but just make sure those random blue snow cones remain random occurrences!  Even if things have already veered WAY off course, you can still whittle away at the extras and bring some consistency back.  The main areas that cause grumpy mornings and lack of focus during the school year—diet, screen time and sleep—should be the same areas of focus pre-back-to-school.

Do All Kids Benefit from Preparation?

The issues you’ll deal with during back-to-school time and their severity will vary depending on your child.  If you have a child with ADD/ADHD or autism, you’ll know that the chemicals, dyes and sugar found in junk food cause lack of focus, hyperactivity and other issues.  However, most children don’t do their best with junk food in their diet.  Processed foods don’t have to be a major part of your summer cuisine.  They are inflammatory for everyone, and sugar is also known to weaken the immune system.  This is one of the reasons kids tend to catch bugs when they go back to school.

So, your next question might be, “How do we eat right when we’re traveling or visiting relatives?”  The answer: Planning!  Pre-pack healthy snacks and lunches.  Call ahead to grandma’s and make sure she has healthy meals and snacks planned.  When you’re staying at a hotel, find one with a simple kitchen (or travel with a big electric skillet) and hit the grocery store for a few essentials.  You can even make scrambled eggs and ham in a microwave for breakfast!  Some die-hard folks travel with their juicer!

Sandwiches or wraps and whole fruit can be packed for lunch during your daytime excursions.  This is much healthier and very economical; these days, fast food will cost over $40 for a family of four!  Then, you can plan to have dinner out.  It is lots of fun to splurge and go out to eat while on vacation.  This way, you can make the splurge even more special!

Screen Time and Bedtime Go Hand in Hand

We all know it’s easier to go to bed on time and wake up early if it’s already a habit.  But realistically, it’s going to be hard to get kids to do this during the summer.  You must do your best to have a reasonable bed/wake schedule and get closer to the school schedule at least two weeks before the school year starts.

You may not have considered when you combine an erratic summer sleep schedule with extended screen time, whether it be on smart phones watching YouTube and TikTok or more video game time, this compounds the problem.  Don’t forget, it’s best not to view screens at least two hours before bedtime.  The increased dopamine from screen stimulation interferes with sleep.  If you need a reminder of how dopamine causes issues, read our previous article: Our Brains on Social Media.

Stay Active: Physically and Mentally

During the summer, there’s more opportunity to take part in outdoor activities on one hand, and a tendency to stay indoors out of the heat on the other!  We all need exercise, not only to stay fit, but also to support immune function.  Movement helps your lymph nodes clear out damaged cells and infections and since they have no pumps of their own.

Make sure your family is getting out in the sun responsibly, soaking in some vitamin D and spending time face-to-face instead of face-to-screens!  If it’s just too hot, consider other activities that keep the mind moving, like the science center.  Remember, too much screen time disrupts brain balance.  Our brains don’t switch immediately from the excitement of video games to the comparably boring mode of listening to a teacher.  So, include some book reading, household chores and other “boring” activities in your summer schedule.

Lean on Your Practitioners

Your health care providers are there for you year-round!  Scheduling regular appointments during the summer can help your family stay on track for a painless re-entry into the school year.  In this way, you can keep your family from going too far into the extreme territory, because you’ll have an accountability partner who’s interested in your kids’ continued improvement.  And you’ll be a lot less likely to find yourself in an urgent situation once the school year begins.  (For our practice, early August appointments fill up fast.  Call now to schedule your back-to-school and sports physicals, especially if you would like to make one trip to our office with all your kids.)

If you know you’re likely to run into resistance from family or friends regarding your family’s food rules, ask your practitioner for a brief, easy-to-understand explanation about why your child can’t have gluten or processed foods.  This way, they will realize you’re not just being “difficult,” and the topic won’t really be up for debate or argument.

You could also use the more relaxed pace of summer to attend to problem areas with your child.  At the very least, schedule an appointment with your practitioner at least a month to two weeks before school starts.  This will depend on how much help your child usually needs with behavioral or focus issues.


If your summertime break isn’t a “free for all” you can expect your kids to be more focused and less susceptible to viruses when they go back to school.  They might even wake up on time without being called, or at least in a more cheerful mood!  And they could be able to get right down to finishing their homework without a battle.  This summer, may time (and the force) be with you!

natural ADD/ADHD program with Dwight Franklin, DOM

Special thanks to Dwight Franklin, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, for his help with this article.  Dr. Franklin is the owner of Franklin Family Wellness Institute.  He is a graduate of the Florida College of Integrative Medicine, where he received a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in Health Studies. Over the course of his career, Dwight has worked alongside both pediatricians and psychiatrists in the treatment of ADD, ADHD, Autism, and various other common childhood and mental disorders through the practice of Oriental Medicine, Nutritional and Lifestyle changes, and Craniosacral Therapy.  Call (407) 755-3135 or visit his website here:


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