The end of summer brings the beginning of a new school year. However, it doesn’t have to be the beginning of stress. Allow me to share some simple solutions I have learned as a mom with a full-time job. Keep in mind, these are the solutions that worked for me – you know your children better than anyone. Here’s hoping you can live a simpler life! (#3 kept the tears at bay and brought the smiles out.)
1) Reset the clock early.
– Begin a school bedtime schedule and wake up a week or two before school starts.
– Create, and stick to, a schedule before school starts.
– Remember, a rushed child typically turns into a stressed child.
2) Create a bedtime route.
– A warm bath does wonders for relaxation.
– Schedule quiet time before bed (reading is perfect).
– Get organized the night before (see below).
3) Give your children choices, but limit the options.
THE NIGHT BEFORE (this is key):
– Lay out three outfits and have them pick one.
– Arrange lunch items in the refrigerator by rows, like vegetable snacks, fruit desserts, sandwiches, and drinks. Then the child can pick one item from each row for their lunch.
– Locate and prepare lunch, backpack, shoes, sports equipment, musical instruments, etc.
- Place all school items (including your car keys) in a designated spot.
4) Get your children involved from the beginning.
– Take them back-to-school shopping and let them check each item off the list.
– Bring them with you to the grocery store when you choose lunch items.
– Visit the school/classroom before the first day of school.
5) Clarify expectations.
– Talk about bedtimes on school nights.
– Discuss “screen time” limits and rules.
– Decide ahead of time whether you will negotiate (e.g. all A’s means more screen time).
6) Less is more.
– Don’t over schedule.
– For most children, one after-school activity is enough.
– Being bored (time for imagination to soar) is good for children.
Two other conversational “games” helped my children with stressful times.
“Will it matter?” Some things matter for a day, some for a week and some forever. Helping children know how big a deal an issue is, helps them deal with stress. For example, striking out in a baseball game might matter today, or even this week, but forever? Certainly not.
“What if?” This one takes a little more explaining. In the early elementary years, my daughter worried so much about missing the bus, which she never actually did. So we played the “what if” game:
What if you miss the bus? “I would walk back home and you would take me to school.”
What if you were late to school? “I would stop by the office and get a note.”
What if you had to walk into class after it already started? “I would knock on the door with my note and the teacher would let me in.”
You get the idea – go step by step through the “worst case scenario” that is stressing your child out and let them know it’s no big deal.
I will leave you with this final thought: When your children are young, the days are long. When they are grown, the years are short.