Thoughts

Back to School Sanity Check for Parents

Back to School Sanity Check for Parents

Back to School Sanity Check for Parents

Back to school anxiety after a long summer break happens to parents as well as the kids. Whether you are a married or divorced parent, a change in the family’s schedule and routine can cause anxiety. Try to start thinking and planning ahead to smooth the transition ahead of time by organizing the home and re-establishing the ‘school’ routine.

Here are some suggestions for getting back i the school groove:

Supply Time. Encourage the kids to check online and through catalogs for their new back-to-school digs to get them prepared for what they want and help you feel less stressed out before taking the trip to the store. Plan a day trip to go shopping, mark it on the family calendar as a family event.

Meals and Lunches. Meal planning and pre-prep can cut down on the hectic evenings and packing school lunches the night before makes mornings less chaotic.

The Homework Zone. Establish a comfortable homework area to relieve the “I don’t want to do homework” stress that children feel after doing school work all day in the classroom.

Healthy Habits. Re-establish a healthy diet [after all those summer treats] and a regular bedtime routine. This will help increase children’s energy and concentration during school and decrease irritability and mood swings.

For the Littles. For elementary school age children, consider arranging a school visit before the first day, take them back and forth on the school route so they are comfortable with the transportation routine. Organize a get-together with their friends before school starts so they can catch up with their friends.

For the Middles & Up. Middle school and High school children are more independent, so consider giving them responsibilities, such as checking in when they get home, finishing homework and/or a chore before you get home from work to foster accountability. They may even be mature enough to care for their younger siblings after school. Having structured after school routines and activities is important since the time between 3-5pm are when this age group “gets into trouble”.

Hearing their Concerns. Listen to your children and ask them to tell you how they feel about going back to school. Let them talk about the good parts and let them vent to about their fears, worries, and concerns. As they are talking to you, ask them at the end of each pause if there is “anything else”. Once they have let it all out, let them know that you heard what they said by reflecting back what they told you. Remind them of all of the positive aspects of school and what they have enjoyed about school in the past. Also reflecting on how they have had difficult experiences in their life and remind them about how they were able to “get through those tough times”.

We’re all in this Together. Another good option is to is to tap into your network of other parents. Arrange car pools, have your children walk home with their friends, speak to other parents who will home when the children are going or coming from school as back-up to ensure that everyone gets home safely. A lot of back to school stress can be alleviated if parents can have each other’s backs and support each other. And once the first day is over, breathe.

By Cynthia Thiers, Therapist in Bucks County, PA

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