Going back to school isn't just something kids have to adjust to. Moms and dads may also find themselves stressed about adhering to a new schedule, obtaining the requisite school supplies and new clothes, and easing children's worries about heading back to the classroom.
But with some planning and a few tips and tricks, parents can get back into the school year with a calm mind.
Helping the kiddos
Nurturing a sense of calm and confidence in your child may help ease your own worries as well. Moreover, if your son or daughter enters the classroom prepared and relaxed, he or she may have the best semester ever.
You can help ease stress and build excitement about going back to school by assigning some fun tasks and outings in the days leading up to the start of school. For instance, here are some ideas you could mark on the calendar for the week before school:
- 7 days before: Go shopping for fall clothes.
- 6 days before: Take a final summer trip to the amusement park.
- 5 days before: Shop for school supplies and set up a study area and storage space when you get home.
- 4 days before: Talk about what the kids would like for school lunches and let them sample a few ideas.
- 3 days before: Take a trial trip to school—by car, by bike or on foot, depending on how your child will be traveling to school. Go out to lunch or for a treat afterward.
- 2 days before: Pack backpacks and decide where the packs will be kept during the school year. You may want to create a system for where your children will leave papers for you that they bring home.
- 1 day before: Plan a final summer outing with friends, such as a picnic in the park or trip to the pool or beach. And, before bedtime, make sure your child's back-to-school outfit is selected and ready to wear.
Don't underestimate the power of talking with your child to ease their worries. It could be that they are concerned about what teacher they're getting or whether they'll make new friends this year. You can help them build confidence by working on social and conversational skills, like how to start a chat or be a good friend.
Conversely, don't plant fears or anxieties in their heads needlessly. For instance, don't say, "I heard one of the third-grade teachers is really tough. I hope you don't get that one." Or, "Do you think that child who bullied other kids last year will be in your class?" Children pick up on parents' signals. If you approach school with an upbeat, positive attitude, they will likely follow your example.
Give yourself some time to relax
It's hard to be a happy, effective parent if you're stressed over beginning a new routine. So take a little bit of time for yourself in the days leading up to the highly anticipated first day of school to practice some relaxation techniques. (Bonus: You can teach these to your little one. They may roll their eyes at first, but don't be surprised when you catch them meditating at the bus stop.)
Deep breathing is a great way to bring your mind to the present, which is known to improve focus significantly. In a comfortable, seated position, inhale deeply through your nose, noting the sensation of air as it passes through your nostrils and into your lungs. When exhaling, you can either release slowly back through your nose or push the air out through your mouth. The latter is thought to be cleansing, while the former may be more relaxing.
Meditation can consist of little more than this kind of concentrated breathing. As you meditate, attempt to slow your thought process significantly. When a worry enters your head, note it nonjudgmentally and let it float away. This is simultaneously one of the easiest and hardest things to do, so don't be surprised if it requires a little bit of mental practice.