By: Anne Parker, MA, MHSA.
Back-to-school time can be hectic and frenzied with new daily routines to be established and transition details to be taken care of. Being clear about your choices and preparing for those new routines can help the transition be smoother for everyone in the family.
Remember that neither you, nor your kids, can do it all! Choices have to be made not only based on individual needs and wants but also within the realities of available energy and attention including time and logistics. The quickest path to stress and overwhelm is trying to do too much with unreasonable expectations!
Take the attention and care to mindfully establish new routines. Include parents and kids in discussions about how things will work around the house so that everyone has the opportunity to buy in and have some understanding of the “big picture” of how the family operates.
Once the new routines are decided on and individuals’ responsibilities established, write it down! My favorite is a chart on the refrigerator, or something like that, so that everyone is reminded of what has been agreed to. New routines and habits take time to develop and reminders are important for all of us.
When kids are anxious about school starting, acknowledge the feelings and what are creating them. Trying to talk them out of it or minimizing what they feel often just makes it worse by turning their worries inward. Feeling anxious, while starting something new is natural. The key is to move into the newness with the anxiety instead of trying to get rid of it or pretend it isn’t there.
Be open to shifting things as the school year unfolds. The unexpected will always arise somehow, sometime. Adjust, adapt, and keep going as mindfully as possible!
Be sure to focus on the good things, the accomplishments, and what is working at least as much as you focus on the stressors and the negatives. The negative will always be the default so we must be a little more mindful and intentional to make sure the positive side of the equation is acknowledged and celebrated. Enjoy!