Going back to school takes a toll on everyone in your family. While there’s a lot to look forward to, adjusting to a more rigid and demanding schedule can be difficult, especially after a long summer break. Both parents and kids are affected by changing schedules, which is why it’s so important to make sure that everyone in your family recognizes the shift. Even if the first week or two back to school goes great, the following weeks can be testing. It’s not uncommon for the excitement of heading back to school to coast you and your kids through the first several days, only then to hit a wall and then wonder what went wrong.
To help with your back to school adjustment, here are five tips everyone in your family should take into consideration this fall.
Don’t Expect Perfection. Any type of transition will involve moments of success and moments of failure – that’s just part of life! Rather than expecting perfection from yourself and your children, plan for the ups and downs. That means that, when your day doesn’t go just as planned, don’t get upset. Getting upset only puts more attention on the negative part of everyone’s day. Instead, focus on the positive and remind everyone that perfection is never the goal. It’s far better to enjoy each day, hitting 7 out of 10 targets, than it is to live constantly in a state of stress, never accepting that you won’t consistently hit 10 out of 10 goals.
Give Everyone Plenty of Time. “Padding” your daily routines and schedules is ideal when it’s possible. That means that, when you think you need thirty minutes to get ready in the morning, give yourself 45. And, if your child says they have an hour of homework to do each night, ensure that they have two. Being over scheduled so that each moment of your day is “productive” almost always leads to stress, anxiety, and arguments. Focus on what matters the most and then create a schedule that allows for plenty of wiggle room.
Stay Calm. It is, of course, easier said than done, but that doesn’t mean that staying calm in the face of stress is impossible. As everyone in your home adjusts to going back to school, do your best to stay calm by first and foremost making sure that you’re caring for yourself. Take deep breaths, drink lots of water, give yourself time to exercise, and encourage the same from everyone else in your family.
Reconvene Every Week. Schedules should change and adjust as needed. The important thing, then, is knowing when it’s time to make an adjustment. Get in the habit of meeting with your family regularly to go over how everyone is feeling in your home. What’s working with the schedule? What’s making people feel stressed or anxious? Work together as a family to make alterations where you can and, in those parts of the schedule that just have zero flexibility, talk about strategies for dealing with them. Are there other things you can do during the day or the week that can help make things a little easier? The more you’re able to work together as a family with your back to school schedules, the better everyone will feel.
Focus on the Big Picture. It’s easy to get caught up in the small details of each day, but sometimes that’s what leaves you and your family feeling stressed. Do your best to focus on the big picture by reminding everyone, including yourself, about what’s really important. As a family, what’s your big reason “WHY” around school and education? Help your children understand the fundamental importance of school and reinforce that every day.