Kids love routines. Making life predictable can be oddly comforting for your little ones, even if they act like they want to be in control of everything. We know you want only the best back-to-school experience for your kids, which is why you want them to ease into it rather than having it be a shocking wake-up call. As the summer draws to a close, start making bedtime and wake-up time routines that will match the school timeline once it starts. Beyond sleep schedules, having predictable chores and meal times consistent throughout the school year will make the transition easier.
Having consistency during the school year, with both rules and discipline, will make life easier for your kiddos — even if they don't like it at the moment. If your children have other caretakers like your family members or their other parent, try to get on the same page with how discipline works in your family and the basic rules.
Overall, your children may have concerns about starting school. Different and new anxieties can come up. Do your best to be available for questions and discussions. If it's your kid's first year at school, they may ask questions about their family being different than other families. Do your best to communicate openly and honestly with your kids and remind them they're loved.
You're not the only single parent in your kid's school system; like most challenging things, having a community behind you can improve it. Reach out to your kid's teachers or guidance counselors for help finding other single parents in your area, or use apps like Meetup. It might feel overwhelming to reach out, but you don't know who you could be helping. No doubt, other single parents nearby are wondering how they will get Johnny to the school dance when they work that night or get Suzie back and forth to practice four days a week. Other parents may be happy to take your kid to practice if you can watch theirs one afternoon next week.
It can be hard to accept help from others, but you can often develop mutually beneficial relationships where you would be helping others. Other single parents aren't the only ones needing help and might be willing to swap playdates or rides. We promise it's worthwhile to ask around and see who could help.
You're busy caring for your little one(s), but what about you? It's a good idea to check in with yourself from time to time and ask yourself how you're doing. As a single parent, you bare the brunt of many responsibilities, and it's okay to take moments for yourself. We highly recommend it. You can be a better parent if you take the time to make sure you're good. The anecdote can be applied here: putting your mask on before helping others. Just like the kids, you need to be well-rested and healthy.
It's okay to set them up with a movie for the afternoon (after meeting their basic needs) if you need a minute to yourself. Restoring your inner peace can help you feel more hopeful about today and the good times to come. If your kids are old enough to be at home for 20 minutes without you, get yourself some fresh air by taking a walk in the neighborhood. Pick a route where you will see nature — even a few trees or flowers will do the trick. Getting out of the house, even just for a walk, can help bring some perspective.
If you don't want to leave the house but want to get out emotionally, pick up a book or magazine unrelated to work and purely for enjoyment, or write a letter to a friend. Journals are a great way to expend anxious energy and express your frustrations. Even just lighting scented candles can lighten your mood.
Another big tip we have for you is to ensure you have all the comfy clothes you need to make it through this back-to-school season. If some weeks that means you need your uniform of women's yoga pants and sweatshirts for women all day every day, we support you. Dads, we're not judging you in your men's sweatpants and men's hoodies either.
Anticipate that things may come up — your child might get sick at school and possibly not at a reasonable time—research emergency babysitting services or drop-in daycares in the area as a backup for your backup. If you don't have a flexible schedule, have at least two emergency contacts at the ready, as well as relationships with babysitters in the area that your kids know and trust just as much as you do. Back-to-school can be challenging, but they won't be at this age forever. Do your best to sit back and enjoy this time. It may not feel like it; this is a lovely time in your life and theirs. Taking moments to soak it in can go a long way.