Going back to school can be an exciting time. But it can also be nerve-wracking. Even though they’re not the only ones going back to school, their anxiety can make them feel like they’re all alone. They have to worry about classroom drama, getting good grades, and whether they’ll be good at their extracurricular activities—not to mention satisfying their parents. And parents have stresses, too, whether juggling a change in routine, packing lunches, making sure their kids do their homework, carpooling, or anything else that comes their way. But it is possible to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. These ideas will help the whole family get pumped up about going back to school and show kids that you’re all in it together.
Some kids like the excitement surrounding going back to school, and there are kids who get anxious about the very thought of it. For kids in the latter camp to create distractions while also secretly making them look forward to school. For example, you could schedule a beach day or vacation one week before school starts. Then, they’ll most likely find themselves asking you, “How many more weeks until vacation starts?” and then, “How many days before vacation starts?” instead of, “How many days before I have to go back to school?”
It doesn’t have to be a big trip either. Sometimes getting away and going to a local hotel for a few nights is enough to get kids away from their worries. Just pack a nice beach bag with some water toys and snacks, maybe invite a few of their friends, and you’ll be the parent of the year.
Making school lunches is just one of many tasks that parents need to contend with when school starts up again in the fall. Whether you make their lunches each morning, the night before school, or even pack a week’s worth of lunches each Sunday, it takes time. And seeing that kids aren’t eating everything you prepare for them can be incredibly frustrating. So why not have fun with this task and give them a taste of what you have to deal with on a regular basis? Try challenging them to a “lunch-making competition to see who serves the best lunch.” Make them put it all into their lunch boxes, too, so they get a feel for the entire operation. Other than taste, make sure they get extra points for presentation, as well. Have a prize for the winner to make it more rewarding.
Sort of like the idea of challenging their lunch-making capabilities, making a game out of back-to-school shopping can also be fun for everyone. Consider it a scavenger hunt where you head to the store, each of you equipped with a school supply list, and see who can find all the items on their list first. Chances are they won’t find every item, but even if they only find a backpack and a few folders, it will at least take some of the responsibility away from you and make your shopping trip shorter! Of course, again, a prize for motivation is ideal so you can make sure your kids are fully invested, but they might just be happy with the idea of challenging each other.
In some countries, they have a tradition where the kids get a bunch of goodies on the first day of school. In Germany, for example, they use a cone-shaped contraption and stuff it with treats and small toys. However, a basket, bag, or whatever you have handy could do as well. The only requirement is that kids have something to wake up to that they didn’t expect. It could be crafts, candy, books, games—whatever your kids might see as a special treat. Even a new outfit with a top, some kids’ jeans, and shoes could be a great gift to start the first day of school on the right foot.
Just like days at work, some school days are better than others. But what makes all the worries from the day disappear is when you come home and are greeted with something you don’t expect. Little surprises can turn a bad day into a great day. Having an arsenal of ideas and supplies on hand can help. So when they come home with a frown on their face, ask them what’s up. Have some treats on hand to reward healthy communication, and you’ll be surprised as to how well it works.
Don’t let a daunting school year get the best of your family. These ideas are just a handful of ways to celebrate going back to school and start the year on a positive note.