Your children are just starting to get into the swing of the summer holidays, (or should we say, you’ve worked out how to juggle work and the kids at home), and it’s feeling less manic. You’ve survived the heatwaves, and hopefully have managed to avoid airport closures and flight cancellations. Whatever you got up to, it’s been an eventful summer.
But are you like us, and suddenly find that back to school sneaks up on you so quickly? In July, it seemed so far away. And yet here we are, suddenly knee-deep in new school uniforms, labelling and frantically trying to find new school shoes.
With many of us facing the back-to-school process, and being in the business too, we’ve come up with a few suggestions to help make the back-to-school transition just a bit smoother! For some, it might be the children feeling anxious about going back to school, and for others, it could be the parents who find it an overwhelming time of year.
In the last few weeks of holidays:
- Get ‘’routine’’ appointments done – a check up at the dentist, a haircut, a visit to the GP, an eye appointment etc. Ticking things off, helps us to feel in control.
- Create a ‘’back to school’’ family calendar with everyone’s events marked: swimming lessons, scout meetings, sports practices, ballet etc. Fill it all in. Clear communication helps cut down on family chaos, especially for those feeling more anxious than others.
- Try not leave school uniform shopping to the last minute, online shopping for the basics is a win! Check out the school’s second-hand online store for great bargains too. Also, don’t forget to order school labels! You get amazing one’s now that can even survive the heat of a tumble dryer and dishwasher. Permanent stamps (like those from mum-founded business, Stamptastic) are your saviour for labelling those new jumpers and PE shorts.
- Buy school supplies early and start packing bags in advance. It helps to make a list of things your child absolutely needs and wait to buy things you aren’t sure.
- Reset and re-establishing bedtime and mealtimes. Try bringing bedtimes a bit earlier, and try getting up a bit earlier each morning. All of this reduces the first-day-back shock at getting up early again.
- If your child is starting at a new school, practice the walk to school (if you’ll be walking) to time exactly how long it will take. The familiarity of walking to school ‘for practice’ before school starts, will also make it feel more natural when the time comes. This walk is often a great opportunity for your child to ask any questions that might be bugging them.
In the first week back at school:
- Keep the first week back at school simple and casual – especially after school and in the evenings. There is enough anxiety in that first week for both parent and child. Amplifying it with unnecessary play dates and activities could create a state of chaos, rather than an opportunity to decompress and process the first days back at school.
- If your child doesn’t get a school dinner, prepare packed lunches the evening before – this takes an enormous amount of stress off the early-morning rush out the door.
- Laying out the clothes for the day ahead, before going to sleep at night, also helps reduce early morning chaos. No-one wants to be frantically ironing or searching for a runaway sock minutes before walking out the door.
- Perhaps the most important thing to do, is make some quiet time with you and your child each day after school so you can really hear how the school day went. Doing something productive at the same time, like icing biscuits, is a great way to get your child to open up, without adding any pressure.
- As tempting as it is, don’t over-commit the after-school calendar. Too much structured time can cause anxiety, and our children don’t get a fair chance at decompressing or learning how to entertain themselves at home.
- Finally, if you’re a full-time working parent, figure out what you will do with your child after school to bridge the gap between school ending and work finishing. While some kids benefit from an after-school club, many children simply enjoy coming home from school to relax, play in the park, or go to an after-school activity away from the school. We understand that many working parents can’t manage this, but an after-school nanny can often resolve this problem for you.
An after school nanny can make a big difference to your child’s transition back to school and can provide them with the emotional break they need from school, giving them time to rest and recoup at home.
Good luck to all our parents and children getting ready for the new school year. A positive attitude, following these tips and childcare sorted will help you and your children kick off the new school year as stress free as possible.