4 Tips to Create a Stress-Free School Year
Although it is impossible to predict all of the back to school challenges that may come along this school year; such as your daughter’s sudden decision to not wear pink anymore (although everything she has insisted on wearing up until now is pink), your son’s decision to take up the loudest instrument in music class, or the ‘interesting’ personality of your child’s new teacher; there are some things that you can prepare to help with back to school.
Getting ready for back to school can be a fun and seamless experience for the whole family. But, let’s face it, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Many times with the hustle and bustle of the day to day, we find ourselves spread too thin and may not be ready with all of the school supplies or emotional preparedness needed to return confidently to a healthy back-to-school routine.
Trust me, I’ve been there. With an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old, I’ve gone through those same challenges and learned many tricks along the way. So, I’m sharing my tried-and-true stress-busting strategies to ensure that both you and your child are mentally and emotionally set up for a successful school year.
There are often many stressors that are triggered with the new school year – and as you grow together as parent and child, a new year equals new milestones and obstacles together.
Anxiety Canada has shared that: children take cues from their parents, so the more confidence and calm you can model, the more your child will believe s/he can handle this new hurdle.
These back to school tips for parents will help you tackle each of the major preparations when it comes to starting a new school year – and will leave both you and your child feeling confident, connected and prepared.
BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS FOR PARENTS
1. Ask open-ended questions
It is important to let your child know that you are there to talk with them about what they are excited about and what they may be concerned about when it comes to their first day or week of school. Make sure you ask them questions that are open-ended so that they are more likely to start up a conversation with detail. For example, instead of asking them “are you excited for school?” which would most likely end in a response of “yes” or “no”, ask them things like “what are you most excited about on your first day of school?” “who are you most excited to see when you go back to school and why?”
The same applies to throughout the school year. Try striking up a two-sided conversation with a question like, “who in your class is a strong leader and why?”, “who makes you feel great about yourself in class?”, or “what subject and you enjoying the most and why?”.
These kinds of open-ended questions allow your child to get into deeper conversations about their thoughts around the new school year and, also, allows you and your child to connect and start a level of open communication where they know that their feelings matter. This allows them to trust that you are a great source to express their thoughts and concerns at any time.
2. Address wardrobe choices ahead of time
If you have a kid who is indecisive about choosing clothes in the mornings before school, this can lead to unnecessary stress at the start of the day. Who’s been there?
Instead of pushing your preferences on them, why not offer up three options. The night before (or even while out shopping) try placing these options, visually, in front of your child and let them take their time to decide which out of the three they like best. This helps them feel empowered and confident while getting dressed and saves on time and tantrums.
3. Get everyone back on track with sleep schedules and routine
The summer nights are long and we often find ourselves allowing our children to stay up later than normal. And, as fun as that is for everyone, it’s really important to make sure that we work towards a normal school schedule and routine ahead of time.
A large body of evidence documents the ill effects on youth who don’t get enough sleep. According to Psychology Today, young people who regularly get less than eight hours of sleep per night are more likely to be overweight, suffer from depression, and perform poorly in school.
Start ramping up for routine about two weeks before the first day of school by setting an alarm. Make sure your kids start actioning the same routine they would when going back to school even before school starts.
Of course, always take into consideration the appropriate rise-and-shine time to still fit in a proper breakfast and regular morning tasks like getting dressed, etc.
Don’t forget, your kids need a lot more sleep than you do. The pediatric sleep community recommends the following:
4. Make a family calendar of events
Make a calendar of events with your family. Have each family weigh in on their schedules and daily activities. This will help you plan after school playdates, after school activities, class trips and special occasion days at school ahead of time.
This calendar also allows everyone at home to see what each other is doing each day – and helps you divide and conquer responsibilities, carpooling and preparation for those special occasions.
Try to make sure to include the fun family plans as well. Things like: Thursday game night, Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesdays. This will get everyone excited to check the calendar frequently and gives everyone things to look forward to, which can help reduce the stress of a busy school year don’t forget to check out my post on Keeping School Kids Healthy.
Obviously, there is no perfect rule book for setting yourself up with an A+ in the parenting department. We learn as we go. But these tips have worked well in my family to reduce stress for all of us and are proven to be successful to help you and your children feel connected and prepared for the school year together.