Sending your kids back to school can be a tough thing to do especially when they are young. My sister-in-law has 3 young kids and this year two of them will be in school full time. When talking about sending her two oldest to school she says, “adjusting to 2 kids in school and 1 left at home...this feels weird! There is a lot of separation anxiety and mixed emotions. I have felt excitement knowing they will experience new things but guilt at the same time because they don’t always want to go. I know they need to go to school but I think about their social and academic knowledge and I hope it is adequate.”
There is a little fear and anxiety about leaving home for the students too. When your child has spent so much time with you everyday it is hard to leave mom and dad and go off on this new adventure.
You may hear them say, “I don’t want to go to school today mommy” but keep in mind that they will be coming home and the first week is the hardest. Not only that, but you may have more time to do other things like read a book, start a business, go back to school or work, or just get the housework done.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Working with your children to build resilience and manage their emotions can be beneficial for the psychological health of the whole family.”
Here are 5 ways to make going back-to-school a better experience for the whole family:
1. Routine is very important. During the summer break we usually relax and get used to sleeping later and staying up later. It can be a major shock jumping back into the swing of things. Practice the routine in advance. Get up early a few days before school starts. Try to make getting up early something that is fun. Have a morning ritual that you do together like going out for donuts together, making breakfast together, or turning on the radio and singing early morning songs while everyone makes their beds.
2. Get Organized. Organize the backpacks, binders, lunch boxes, cafeteria money, and other school supplies the day before. When I was a kid I was a total nerd. I loved everything about school. I loved the smell of new school supplies, getting new books, the Lisa Frank back pack that smelled like new plastic, I loved shopping for school supplies early to beat the frenzy at the store, I EVEN loved getting up in the morning and catching the school bus. I think this was mostly because my mom took me to her college classes when I was a kid. It must have really made an impact on me.
Here is a great way to inspire a little excitement about the first day of school for all the creative kids out there: go and get your school supplies a few days early and have a decorating party with your kids at the kitchen table. Get out the puffy paint and have your kid decorate a folder that is all theirs or a composition book to write all of their thoughts and feelings in. This could be a great memory!
3. Make friends & Get involved. Our kids look to us for guidance on how to respond to people and social situations. There are many reasons getting to know people and building friendships is important. Not only do you make friends and gain fulfillment but you are building a community support system that can invest in you and your familyas well as provide opportunities for your family to give back to the community. Not to mention, you’ll gain a better idea of what kind of people your kids are spending their time with.
Walk around your neighborhood, get to know the other families on your block, join parent teacher organizations, organize play dates for the young kids, and look for safe hang out places for the older kids like a recreation center, swimming pool, park, or better yet - your house.
4. Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Ask them specific questions about how they are feeling. Let them know that you understand how they must feel. Ask them how they think you can help them. Ask if you can make a suggestion. Give them advice and direction. But remember we have to ears and one mouth. Our kids learn how to communicate from their parents.
5. Encourage your kids. Don’t fall into the avoidance trap, avoiding things that are scary, like going to school. Instead encourage your kids to face their fears. As they face their fears they gain confidence. As you constantly encourage and speak good things about them, to them, and to other people in front of them, they will begin to believe the positive things you say about them.
Just watch their face light up when you say how awesome they are at writing, or how much you love their kindness to their sister, or what a smart kid they are because they can count all the way to 10 or they have mastered algebra. If you have trouble with doing this, that’s okay. It is hard sometimes at first. Mostly because many of us grew up with critical parents who had negative self-talk. Practice saying these good things about yourself too, it will become easier with time.
My sister-in-law has wise advice she says, “I get all of what I need to get done during the day so when my kids get home from school I can devote 100% of my time to really getting to know how they felt about their day. It means a lot to them when they get one-on-one time with mom and dad. Dinner discussions are vital to getting to know how my children feel about all that goes on during their school day and what to look forward to tomorrow.”
Once all the babies are off to school how about focusing on your marriage? Give us a call.=)