Say it isn't so. Another summer is quickly coming to an end. In just a few weeks we'll be cramming the aisles at the big box stores spending a small fortune on notebooks, tablets, pens, clothes, and other supplies that our kids need.

But even tougher than watching the money fly out of our wallet is getting our children back on a school schedule after weeks of lazy days, late bedtimes, sleeping in, and afternoons filled with movies, outings, and every bit of fun imaginable. It's critical that you plan ahead because if you're unprepared, those first few days and weeks of returning to the demanding rigors of the school calendar will be painful — for everyone in your household.

Here are a few things to focus on as you and your children prepare for another school year:

Arise Earlier

In the days leading up to the beginning of school, get your children up a little earlier each day. This will help get them accustomed to the demands of the school schedule. They won't like it. But it's critical to reset their body clock to get ready for those painfully early mornings.

Go to Bed Earlier

This is the previous tip in reverse. As you transition your children — especially younger ones — to earlier wakeup times, also begin setting an earlier bedtime. They will need every minute of sleep they can get and if you establish a solid foundation now, it will pay dividends as the school year unfolds.

Regain Consistency

Summer rules and the rules of summer give your children lots of latitude, relaxation, and time to mentally recharge from a grueling school year. But in just a few weeks the expectations return. It is imperative that parents help their kids get off to a successful start to the school year by reminding them about the need to get their clothes, books, and extracurricular supplies ready the night before school.

Do a Test Run

If you are moving into a new school, it might be helpful to make a dry run to school one morning to make sure you know the best way to get there. By making the run in the morning, it will also give you an idea of what the road conditions and traffic will be like.

Know What to Expect

No matter your child's age, it's a good idea to sit down with them and discuss what's on tap for their upcoming school year. Are they tackling a foreign language for the first time? Advancing into a more challenging math class? Taking on a part-time job while juggling school and sports? There's bound to be a full plate for your children at school this year and it's vital that they are fully engaged from day one. Help them feel confident with what lay ahead and if it's too much, encourage them to speak up and make changes.

Reset the Mindset

Summer lulls us into a wonderland of vacations and endless relaxation. School is the exact opposite. Nowadays, our children face endless demands on their brains, time, and energy as well as the competition to succeed in many phases of school life. To suddenly switch their minds from the glories of summer break to the rigors of classwork and homework is a nearly impossible challenge. In the waning days of summer, encourage them to re-open a textbook or two to prepare for an upcoming class or get a head start on some of the work that is just around the corner.

Parents Have Homework, Too

The changes that are coming with the new school year will not only affect your children. They will affect you, too. Your schedule will change dramatically as will your workload. Resolve to get things done the night before the school day — making lunches, making sure book bags are packed and clothes are washed. A little preparation will save you a mountain of stress.

Create a School-Friendly Environment

Before the school year begins, make sure that your children have an environment in your home that will be conducive to studying, learning and working free of distraction. Make sure your computers are working properly and you've got printer paper, printer ink, and other supplies that are always needed at the last minute and are often misplaced. Also, try to designate a specific area for homework that is far away from the television or other distractions. It might take planning and preparation, but you've still got some time on your side.