Groupshot3Ok, Moms and Dads. How are you really feeling about your kids going back to school? Do you have the blues and a sinking feeling in your stomach about the rigid routine that will now take place as your child now has school, homework and activities to squeeze in? Or are you secretly ready or even grateful for a return to the routine?

I have mixed feelings. Our youngest started high school, a big transition. And our oldest started college, another huge transition. I felt nostalgic as I walked the dog yesterday morning and saw all the proud parents taking picture and videos of their kids headed for the bus stop. One boy was laying on the concrete driveway and wouldn’t get up. Another boy about 6 years old, was proudly biking to school and caerfully stopping at each intersection to check for cars. Three sisters held up signs with their age as mom and dad clicked pictures. I remembered the days when I could still take photos (publicly), walk the kids to the bus stop, and have warm brownies waiting for the neighbor kids when they got off the bus. Teenagers want you to take pictures in the back yard where no one can see and love trips to Caribou for coffee.

A friend of mine with 7 children grieves for several weeks each Sept. as her kids pile on the bus and now drive to high school. She loves the relaxed pace and freedom that summer allows and dreads the rigidness of bus schedules, making lunches, homework, and practice schedules.

Change, whether it’s good or bad, can be stressful and a bit unsettling for you and your kids. Be patient wtih your kids in the next few weeks. They will likely be more tired, moodier, whine more, and probably be more defiant. This is normal. Give more hugs and longer periods of time for snuggling. Be super vigilant about getting them to bed on time and be sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep yourself. Try to streamline activities as much as possible by creating rituals and routines. These activities will help build predictability for your child and reduce some of their anxiety.

Make sure to do “feeling check-ins.” Ask your kids daily what made them happy, sad, or worried, today at school? That way you can get a read on their emotional state about school.

Instead of asking “How did school go today?” and getting a one-word response like “fine” try asking questions like, “What was the best/worst part of your day today?” “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” “Tell me the most interesting thing you learned today.” “What kids seem friendly this year?”

How are you feeling about school starting? Share your thoughts with us here and any tips you have for making the transition easier.

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