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How to Shift out of Vacation Brain and Into a Work/School Mindset

At 3 pm on the first of work day after a recent vacation, I felt a sudden, sinking, roller coaster stomach. Did I miss an important noon lunch meeting? With calendar reminders 🗓️ and alarms 🔔, how could I have missed it?

Once my breathing became normal, I could admit that my brain was still on vacation. I hadn’t done my usual system of business prep, because my work-mind was still on pause. ⏸️

And what about the brains 🧠 of kids coming off summer break and starting school?

Are you feeling dread and anticipating meltdowns and tantrums?

⚡The shift from vacation to school is a shock to the system.⚡

Without a strategy to get on track, your kids’ school minds are still on pause.⏸️

Here’s what works to transition your and your child’s brain from pause ⏸️ to play. ▶️

It’s Pretend-It’s-Real-Day.

This is when you give yourself a buffer-day between returning from vacation and going to work. Here is how it works:

1- On the buffer-day, go to sleep and wake up based on work/school times.

2- Go through the work-day or school-day morning routine, including getting dressed in work-casual or school clothes.

3- Have all meals at the same time you would have them if you were officially at work or at school.

4- Get to bed at the right time for work/school.

5- In between that time schedule, do at least one work-related or school-related task. This could be checking emails or reading. Fill the rest of the time as you want. The key is the sleep-eat-get dressed schedule. You are getting your circadian rhythm back and work/school mindset back.

For those children who struggle with transitions, have a couple of back-to-back Pretend-It’s-Real-Days. They need more time.

Important Note About Jet Lag: ✈️

Have you ever gone back to work suffering from jet lag? It probably wasn’t pretty.

If your child returns to school right after a trip that crossed time zones, you can anticipate trouble. It’s hard enough getting them up for school, but getting them up when their body says it’s 2 hours earlier???⏰


your vacation takes you across time zones, come home well before school or work starts and begin the Pretend-It’s-Real-Days gradually.

I know the next time I take time off, I will definitely not neglect the Pretend-It’s-Real-Day strategy.

I’m saving my next sudden, sinking, roller coaster stomach for an amusement park. 🎢

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