Thursday, August 20, 2015

Doing it Wrong: Back to school basics for the rest of us

I know I am doing it wrong... but as I sit in the morning stillness with my coffee on the stand beside me and the sound of the clicking of the computer keys I can't help myself.  JR, Gracie, and Anna are all snoozing peacefully in their beds.  Anthony left for a good 20 minutes ago.  Long enough for me to brew some coffee, eat a quiet breakfast, and check in with the morning news.

I know that I should be getting the kids up early today, but the thought is abhorrent to me.  Tomorrow at this time, they will all be scrubbed fresh, smelling of toothpaste or maple syrup, dressed in their blue shorts and blue shirts, hair still damp from their attempts to make it lay just right.  We will pile in the car and kick of their next school year.

But today I just want quiet.  I want them to sleep. I want them to relax. And yes, I want to relax too.  Just one more day before the craziness of two school drop off and pick up, gymnastics, piano, soccer, soccer and more soccer.

If I were asked the question "how should parents prepare their kids to go back to school?" the answer you get would be very different from what I am actually doing.

The best way to prepare kids to go back to school is by helping them reset their personal sleep clocks. Kids need to have regularity in their lives and setting their sleep schedules is the best way to regulate other stuff naturally.  Regular bedtimes are touted as the key to getting kids up and off to school bright-eyed and ready to learn.  If you are like many homes and have loosed the bed-time for your kiddos in the summer months, moving back towards their normal bedtime in small increments can be helpful.  Putting your kids to bed 20-30 minutes earlier every few days can gently ease them back into a place where they are prepared to go to be at 8 or 9 and wake up ready for their school day.

Most schools don't allow children to graze all day and eat their meals whenever they are hungry.  Making sure that you eat more regularly the week before school will help them once school starts as well.  Eating a good breakfast, giving them  little snack mid-morning, and having your lunch time around the same time the kids eat at school will keep their tummy's from grumbling in their desks.

Going back to school is a tough thing for the kids socially too.  They are going to be under the care of a new teacher, new students on either side of them. They don't know where their desks will be or how much home work they will have.  Help them gather their supplies early.  JR told me his old back pack and lunchbox were great, so we packed those up with the supplies from the list and he has had it sitting in the corner for a week.  It is all there together and ready for him. Grace still needs a lunchbox so that is on todays 'ToDo" list, but otherwise she is pretty set to.  Having their supplies ready and together was a huge stress release for them.  They could see them, touch them, fight over them, and they know they will have those things when they walk through their classroom door.

Be a listener, not a fear-monger.  Some kids will ease from summer to school year easily.  Others will struggle.  Don't prompt your kids to be scared.  Watch for the signs that your child is bothered because kids don t often voice these issues.  If your little one is more grumpy than normal, having bad dreams, wetting the bed - ask some prompting questions "How do you feel about school starting?" or  "are you excited about school starting?" but stay positive about it all and help your child process their feelings without having you instill fear - DON'T say thing like "gosh a new school year can be scary"  or "are you worried about school starting" or "are you worried about seeing your friends again" or "are you worried that your teacher is going to be mean?".  Rather ask them how they feel about the school year starting and then work from there.  Acknowledge their fears but reassure them that everything will be okay. Keep if lighthearted and positive.

Get yourself ready
Don't forget to actually get your own stuff in order too.  I may or may not have forgotten to look at Anna's preschool packet before taking her on the first day.  Okay, I actually blew it off.  I figured that since I had already gone through this 3 times before I didn't need to review the information.  Turns out they changed things like the pick-up time. Now all the kids get picked up at the same time (after lunch) whereas before you had the option of leaving them for lunchtime.  Not a huge deal if I had actually packed her lunch. Really not a huge deal anyway because I could run home and make her lunch, but it wasn't a proud moment for me. I also forgot to pack her extra set of clothes, and Gracie's Fine Art supplies. Again, not a huge deal, but the first week will go much easier when you as a parent do you part too. Wake up on time, have your coffee, get your own stuff together and know where you are going and when.

Happy back to school day and thanks for stopping by!

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