First week down, breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve gotten through the drama of ‘Back to School’. Well done you. Unfortunately, come Monday, you’re going to have to do it all again – and not just this Monday, but the one after that & the one after that and on and on to Christmas & beyond. In addition, the mornings and evening will get darker and the weather will get worse (maybe I should say colder rather than worse, given the summer we just had!). Aren’t I just a bundle of joy today?
Back to school can be overwhelming for everyone. The first week can often be the easiest time. We plan it. The uniforms are bought, the books covered, the lunches planned, but is in the second and third week that routines are created and once a good routine is established, life becomes much easier. Here are some tips for the second week at school:
Your children will have been more active over the summer, even if that meant that they simply got up from the couch and walked into their bedrooms whenever they wanted. Now even that limited physical activity is curtailed, they will for the most part be sitting down for almost all of the day. Therefore it is really important to maintain physical activity when they go back to school. If they are into sports, keep them playing – even in big exam years. You might need to reduce the time spent training but don’t cut it out completely. The mind and body needs that physical activity. It is an excellent form of stress relief.
Make sure that you know exactly what events are coming up in school. Your child relies on you to be their anchor. Mark your calendar and check it regularly. Make sure you use one that has plenty of space to write on. It can be useful to have a weekly planner as well. I have one framed so that I can reuse it like a whiteboard. That way I can remind everyone of what’s happening that week like birthday parties, play dates, meetings, training, and doctor’s appointments. As I say, if it’s not on the board it’s not happening. If you’d like a copy of it, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org & I will email it to you.
School is back but if your kids are on sports teams, training seems to be as regular as ever so a good idea, to prevent overwhelm for you, is to have some easy meals ready in the freezer. This will ensure everyone will have time for homework and sport, and gets to eat properly, without mum or dad having to cook from scratch.
Adjusting to the rhythm of school can be stressful for children, so as parents it is important that we don’t over react. Reinforce the ability to cope. Children absorb their parent’s anxiety, so model optimism and confidence for your child. Let your child know that it is natural to be a little nervous anytime you start something new but that your child will be just fine once he or she becomes familiar with classmates, teachers, and school routine.
Turn off the TV and other devices. There was a time when the telly was the only distraction in the house, but now there are so many others. Establish rules and stick to them. Have a place where the phones go to be recharged and they are plugged in the moment the kids come home from school and not touched until after homework has been completed. Even then limit the amount of time to half an hour. Children need to relax before going to bed and the tiny flicker of screens prevents this.
Reinstate bedtime and stick to it. Children are experts at the war of attrition and they will wear you down, taking 5 minutes extra at a time until bedtime is now a completely new time. Be strong.
Arrange playdates – at school, friendships can be forever but sometimes they can be for a short time. Your child’s friends can move school, be in different classes or for some unfathomable reason no longer want to be friends with your child. You can help your child through this by arranging play dates with other children. These are also a great way for you to get to know other parents, especially if you are working. Knowing the parents can be very handy for carpooling or being able to contact them about school issues.
Finally, make sure that you take care of YOU! If you are frazzled, the whole household becomes frazzled. Take some time for yourself. Do something that you enjoy, for some it might be an uninterrupted lingering hot bath, for others it might be a lung bursting spinning class. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that you do it for you.
One last tip – Highlight the midterm breaks, bank holidays and holidays on your calendar, every day you are one step closer to them!! Good luck.