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Start back-to-school routine long before kids head off for their first day of class

Ah, the sweet — and temporary — bliss of summer; so soon it ends. In less than a month, the back-to-school routine cranks up in full force.

Laura Olson, vice president of education for child-care chain Kiddie Academy, has some tips for getting ready. And you're not going to like this: We should all really be preparing NOW.

"Parents need to begin transitioning children into the back-to-school routine early enough so they have time to adjust — mentally and physically," Olson says.

So much for the lazy days of summer!

Get children excited: Get your children ready for school by making back-to-school shopping a family affair. During a shopping trip for new school supplies, let children cross off items from their lists as they fill the cart. This will keep them involved and excited during the process.

Play school: Gather books, paper, pencils and crayons, and play school with your children. Let them be the teachers and you be the student. As you play, ask your children how they feel about starting school. This is a great time to talk about anxieties or concerns they may have as they start a new school year.

Establish a school year schedule: A few weeks before school begins, set — and stick to — a realistic bedtime to allow children to get the recommended 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.

Practice the morning routine with children: Before the first day of school, figure out how long it will take for everyone to get out of the house on time. If your children will be walking to school, practice the route showing them where to stop and if necessary, how to cross the street. If your children are bus riders, show them where to catch the bus and review the bus rules.

Back-to-school activities: Find out about back-to-school activities or events, such as meet and greet with teachers. This is a great opportunity to get your children familiar with their school surroundings and comfortable with their new teachers.

Get your own routine in check: Make sure you know what you need to keep the busy morning schedule running smoothly. To make more time in the morning, consider handling the following at night: setting the coffee maker, preparing lunches and reviewing homework. And, practice your new routine before the stress of the school year really hits.