Back to school was one of my favorite times of the year as a kid, thanks in part to the way my mom prepared us for the new year every fall. She made us feel excited and supported in what could be an intimidating experience. I checked in with a few of my favorite moms to come up with fresh ways to start this school year off strong.

1. Take it slow when shifting gears. Been a little lax on the summer bedtimes? (Guilty.) Start shifting back to earlier bedtimes and earlier wake-ups about a week before school starts rather than the night before. Trust, you’ll have more luck getting a not-so-sleepy kid off to school. Plan breakfast and lunch times closer to what it will be like during their school day too. This helps kids start to feel the rhythm of what their days will soon be like.

Kids can be exhausted and a little overstimulated from being back in the classroom. For the first week or so, try to keep enough room on the calendar for them to decompress at home while they adjust.

2. Add a little play to your BTS shopping. You don’t have to drop a lot of money on a bunch of new things, but whatever back-to-school shopping looks like for your fam, get the kids involved. Most schools provide supply lists that you can easily turn into a scavenger hunt with a little mom magic. (I remember waiting for my mom to tell us a supply, and then racing my brother and sister to bring it back the fastest.) Having kids join in the back-to-school shopping isn’t always the quickest way to get things done, but can get them excited about the new year. My son loved picking out his backpack print and monogram color this year on his own (we went with Wanderwild). He can’t wait to show it off to all his friends!

3. Prioritize new school year activities. Parents are generally more aware of the time leading up to back to school than their kids so the start of the school year can feel like an abrupt change for them. Prioritize and attend back-to-school events with your kids to help ease their nerves about starting the school year. Are these events the most fun you will ever have as parents? No. Will it be easy to fit it all in your schedule? Not at all. But it’s good for kids to get to know their teachers, environment, and new peers before starting a new school year.

4. Start new traditions to kick off the year. Traditions and celebrations look different for every family. Talking to different moms, I heard everything from a first-day photo to a full-blown after-school celebration. We always eat cinnamon rolls the morning of important days — birthdays, holidays, and anything worth celebrating. So, for us, on the first day of school, our house always smells like fresh cinnamon rolls.

We also love the tradition of helping kids pick an affirmation or verse to say to themselves during the start of the new year. If your kid is transitioning to a new school, anxious about a certain topic, hates reading out loud, or feels slower at math, work together to come up with a simple phrase that can help them feel more confident and at peace. “I can choose my attitude,” “Challenges help me grow,” “I am a good friend to others” are just a few examples. These reminders can calm their fears and reinforce your belief in them.

Morgan Schoenrock is a mom and lifestyle blogger living in Parker, Colorado with her family.