Back to School, Back to Routine
Now that school is back in session and the summer is winding down, are you having trouble getting your family back into a routine? The transition from a lazy summer of riding bikes, lounging by the pool, playing video games, and hanging out with friends to a busy school schedule full of homework, practices, and early mornings can be a tough one. Here are some tips to help get your family back on track.
Use Mindfulness To Ease Back to School Anxiety
The realization that school is about to begin often hits children when they make that first trip to get school supplies. For children that are anxious about returning to school, this event may have triggered some of those feelings. This might have been the first time you noticed them behaving differently. Perhaps they’re more quiet than usual or they display bigger or different emotions than they typically do. While this may make you feel anxious as well, you can this as an opportunity to help your child grow into a resourceful and confident student.
It is important to take your child’s feelings seriously. Normalize uncertainty and anxiety so they do not feel alone. Showing empathy for whatever it is that is troubling them gives them the space they need to sort their feelings out. You do not want them to struggle with whatever it is they are feeling and thinking their feelings are not warranted. Experiment with different mindful activities to help them relax. You might try a body scan with them so they can identify where they noticing the anxious feelings in their bodies. Deep breathing can easily be done anywhere and anytime. Here is an exercise you can download and use anytime!
Practicing some simple yoga moves before going to bed or when they wake can also help them feel less anxious.
Get Playfully Curious During Your Morning Routine
If your routine during the summer has been anything but, settling back into one can be unnerving for the entire family. Discuss with your child in advance what mornings will look like and get their input where appropriate. Get curious with them about what reminders they may need to stay on schedule. Be creative! Posters, love notes, a personalized bus schedule, and colorful handmade calendars can all help. Even if there are lots of things to do in the morning to get everyone out the door, it can be a time where you are playful. “Last one out the door has to walk to the car on one foot!”
Morning can also be a great time for everyone to set one intention for the day and will provide a great way to check in later in the evening.
Strength Spotting Can Help With Homework
Few children are excited about doing homework. Knowing your child’s temperament and what they need to focus on can influence your child’s success. For example, do they need quiet? Do they work better with others around? How do they need you to be present? How long can they sit before they get antsy? Do they need shorter breaks more often or can they sit still and get it done in one stretch? A great way to offer encouragement is to strength-spot them. “Your strength of Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence is what helps you do your best. I am proud to see you are using it to do such a great job on your science project”. If you notice your kids having a little too much fun when they are working on their homework, help them refocus; “I love your zest and humor, but let’s try to use a little bit of your self-regulation right now.” Plan for something fun today after homework is complete.
Healthy snacks are a great way for your child to keep their energy level up.
Be Intentional During Your Evening Routine
A consistent evening routine is just as important as morning routines. Be intentional in winding down so your children can ease into the transition of going to sleep. If there are things to do for the next day (picking out clothes, getting their backpack ready, preparing and packing their lunch), try not to do that right before bedtime. It’s important to make time for the things that help them to relax; perhaps a mindful activity like the body scan, deep breathing or a warm calming soak in the tub. Evenings are a great time to read together to encourage curiosity and a love of learning. Parents that are fully present for this part of their child’s day can more easily wind down from their day as well.
Sometimes some snuggling is what some children need to transition from their busy day to a good night’s sleep.