Going back to school is exciting! But, it can also be stressful for the whole family. Busy schedules, social drama, teacher relationships, extracurricular activities, and academics can all feel overwhelming at times after laid-back summer vibes. Helping your family ease into the stress of the school year is important not just for maintaining mental health but also for teaching kids important life skills on management, communication, and self-care. Read on for a few tips and initiatives to ease the stress for the whole family.
One of the best ways to ease into the school year is to already know your routine. Sometimes jumping back in unprepared can feel very stressful and hard to even catch up with. Establishing a solid routine before the school year starts is a good way to ease back into the business of every day without getting too stressed out. A good routine means that everyone knows the drill, and it can avoid miscommunication, stress, and confusion. Kids especially need a solid routine to truly thrive.
Many of the tension and arguments come during the morning and evening routines. Practice these routines for the school year a week or so before the first day of school, so your kids are already in the rhythm as they transition from vacay to classroom. Have them set out their clothing or school uniforms the night before, so they know what to put on in the morning. Set some evening rules for winding downtime where kids can read a book before lights out. Consistent morning and night routines can be helpful for everyone in the family to feel less stressed.
Working with your family members as a team ensures that easing back into the school year runs as smoothly as possible. One way to accomplish this is to assign everyone chores. Encourage kids to take some responsibility and help around the house in small ways, such as bringing down the laundry hamper for washing. If you have a parenting partner, ensure you’re working together by dividing up tasks, so back-to-school preparation goes smoothly.
A part of successful teamwork is good listening. Make the time and space to sit down as a family or one-on-one with your kids to talk, listen, and see how they are doing. Listening to one another can help to relieve stress, shape togetherness, and ensure no one is carrying around a chip on their shoulder. For example, if you’re going insane because your husband and kids keep leaving their backpacks in a pile at the door, discuss how to encourage your family members to put their things away. Similarly, talking to your kids and listening to how they are doing at school is a good way to help them feel heard and support them in managing their stress.
Whether as children ourselves or as parents, we’ve all experienced the excitement of the back-to-school shopping trip. Taking your kids on a shopping trip, so they have everything they need to succeed and feel good about this school year creates opportunities to communicate and ease stress. School supplies aside, kids can also be very self-conscious about what to wear to school and may want to pick out some new clothes for the coming year. Shopping for some kids jeans can be a lead-in to talking to your kids about how they feel about going back to school.
Whether it’s right before you’re headed back into the school year or sometime during the first month, schedule a trip with the whole family to relax a bit amid the hustle and bustle of going back to school. Whether it’s a fun camping trip, a road trip, or a weekend trip to the beach, taking some time away can be a helpful way to help everyone ease into the new academic year.
With all the routines, schedules, homework, classes, and extracurricular activities, your kids are about as heavily scheduled as a business executive. While routine is helpful for kids and parents to manage stress, freedom, and relaxation are just as important to help kids feel creative, expressive, and explorative. Unschedule your kids several times a week, so they just have time to play and, well, be a kid!
Staying organized is a great way to avoid stress when heading back to school. Post a calendar or bulletin board in a common space at home to ensure everything is organized around the same schedule. Be sure your kids have folders or storage bins to keep their school supplies and homework organized. Similarly, parents should also have folders to keep up to date with all the school information and events without getting overwhelmed.
Playdates and sleepovers are an important way for kids to socialize and for parents to have a little time to unwind. Schedule occasional afterschool playdates with homework time built in. Or, when the weekend arrives, send your kids off with their personalized sleeping bags for a sleepover to let them have some fun while you kick back and relax for the evening.
Back to school is always going to be stressful, but with some simple routines and tips, it’s possible to ease the stress for the whole family to make the transition from summer vacation a breeze.