As summer comes to an end, many households are consumed with the hustle and bustle of getting back into the swing of new schedules. I remember as a child being concerned with what I would wear the first day of school, if I would have any friends in my class, and who I’d sit by at lunch. I was never thinking about my parents and the burden (or relief!) that going back to school would bring.
I assume my mom had mixed emotions…relief of: “Hallelujah! I finally will have some time to get things done and have structure to my day.” Right alongside with the stressful thoughts of: “A new year means hard transitions, papers and backpacks everywhere, need for disciplined schedules, and dreaded shopping trips for clothes and supplies.”
So moms, this one is for you and your mixed emotions! How do we manage the transition and help to support our kids going back to school? While ultimately supporting our own need for structure and peace of mind?
First, use back to school shopping as an intentional time to communicate with your kids. Time in the car is a perfect place to have their attention. Whether they are 4 or 14, finding an hour to have one on one, focused time can be beneficial. Make a dreaded shopping trip into a fun outing mixed with a spontaneous ice cream stop. Set the mode for a year of open communication.
Second, start setting the alarm in the morning and having an earlier bedtime several days prior to the first day of school. If you don’t start implementing a set sleep schedule, the first few weeks of school will be rough on everyone. It doesn’t matter how old they are…they still need to rest and someone to guide them.
Third, teach them discipline and responsibility. Have your kids pack their own lunch every evening and layout their clothes the night before. This minimizes the decisions and tasks that have to be done in the morning. And especially if you have girls, having already picked out the outfit, down to the jewelry and socks, makes the mornings much more enjoyable. (sorry for the melt downs, mom!)
Fourth, have a master calendar – digital or paper – for everyone in the family to see. Write out the week’s schedule, map out meals, color code for different children or different activities. A communication center with a calendar will keep everyone on the same page (even your husband!).
Fifth, have a designated “drop zone” for backpacks and paperwork. When kids come home from school, teach them where to hang their backpacks, where to put papers you need to look at, where they will do their homework, etc. Figure this area out ahead of time so your kids know from the first day of school what to do with their projects and how to organized their own papers. A simple in/out box or folder for assignments and lunch money will help them (and you) keep track of what needs to be taken back and forth to school.
Sixth, as the school year progresses and things start to go array — papers, schedules, etc — be intentional to adjust the system and get back on a track that works for your household. (don’t abandon ship!) Adjust systems based on strengths, interests, and learning style. Every kid responds differently to schedules and structure. It doesn’t have to be rigid, but guidelines will help kids succeed and transition better.
Overall, the way you help guide your kids through school transitions can help them learn how to deal with transitions for the rest of their life. It may seem like a simple, natural change to go from summer to school, but for many households it’s a time that festers anxiety of the unknown. Or it may be Mom and Dad who have the most anxiety! By helping the kids, you help yourself.
What is one back-to-school tip that works well with your kids that you could share with others? What’s one system you’re going to try this year? Let me know! Email me here.
Feeling scattered about the best way to manage the transition back to school in your home or schedule? Michelle is an expert in coaching and consulting to help your household run on all cylinders. Schedule a free 15 minute intro call here.
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