It’s the final leg of the race, kids are nervous, parents are exhausted, and morning traffic has suddenly tripled. Yes, we’re back into the school term!
As a family, we were fortunate enough to be able to build some great memories together in these past two weeks. In spite of the fact that my wife and I still worked most days we shared some great moments with our kids over Pokémon cards, trips out to the city or cinema, and the odd spot of gardening.
Now, as we re-enter the pattern of school and spend our days apart, we are faced with the challenge of keeping that sense of connection and involvement. Also, with two kids who struggle with school-related anxiety, we are also back in the throes of working hard each morning to set them up to have a positive day and spending time each night helping them debrief.
So here are five ways you can make the transition back to school for your kids a great one!
1. Have a simple morning routine
One of the best changes we made to the way we start our day was to create a simple morning routine for our kids. We printed out some simple icons representing five things they need to do each morning and put them in the outline of a hand – we call it their ‘High Five’. Every morning they can wake up, look at the hand on the fridge and have a simple way of seeing what they need to do next. In our case, that’s making their bed, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, reading, and thinking of three thankful things. And when they’re done they can run to us for a big high five to celebrate!
2. Look for the positive
Sometimes our kids need a little push to see that school isn’t just a place of suffering and torment – good things can happen there too! So, when we can, we try to encourage them to look for at least one positive thing going on in their life. Does that mean that they have to love PE? Of course not! But maybe they can still enjoy being out in the sunshine.
3. Do a dinner debrief
We’ve found that dinner, as chaotic as it is, is a great time to hear from everyone about their day. So we go around the table and all share one thing from our day – be it good, funny, difficult, or sad. This is also a chance for our kids to hear about the things that we experience and see that their parents experience the same sorts of things they do.
4. Get good sleep (kids AND parents!)
So much has been written on the value of sleep that I won’t repeat it here. I’ll only say that this is still an aspirational goal in our family though!
5. Enjoy your weekends together
If you’re like me then you usually only see your kids in the morning rush and the evening crash. So not exactly quality time! Weekends are your opportunity to have some fun relational time together as a family, build memories, and reconnect at the end of a big week. Yes, there is lots to do, housework, gardening, shopping… but try to make at least one afternoon or morning a time together. Go down to the park or the library – wherever suits you – and enjoy some quality time together.
6. Get some one-on-one time with your kids
If you have multiple kids, then you know how different they are – both in their personalities and also their needs. We are discovering the power of having some one-on-one time with each of our kids, even if it’s just a jaunt to the supermarket for milk. It’s a time to get to know them away from the competing noise of the family, hear what’s going on in their life and let them know that they are special to you as an individual. We’ve found this is especially powerful if your kid, like ours, struggles with an anxious personality.
So, those are my six tips for you. I hope this final term is a great one for you and your kids!
Brent Grimes | Communications Officer