27 Aug Back to school – time to relax!
“Back to school” is one of our favorite topics that comes back every year…and not only reminds us of rainbow colored pencils but also evokes heavy planning, hectic mornings, pointless drama, lists of school supplies and a longer to-do list than ever.
Does it have to be like that? Every year? Really?
Let me give you a couple of valuable tips that will change your back to school days forever.
First of all, start with yourself.
Your children usually reflect your own attitude like a mirror. You are their example, their guideline. How do you expect them to stay positive and be motivated if you start complaining about the workload even before coming home from the beach? How do you want them to be relaxed if you are tense and rushing through the days? How do you want them to stop whining if you don’t have time to listen to them? You got it, your mantra should be “Keep calm and get organized”. Before leaving on holidays, make sure to plan your return and have a look at deadlines. When do you have to sign up the kids for their activities? What time do you have to bring them to school? Once you come back, start blocking time slots in your agenda for back to school logistics, such as shopping for supplies. Block yourself some quality time with the kids which is not spammed with admin. And make sure to plan all this around your own work or personal agenda. If you have all the dates and gates under control, you will feel more confident and be able to enjoy this exciting moment with your kids.
Create a morning and nighttime routine.
There is nothing more important for children than structured mornings and night times. The first days at school usually feel like chaos as these routines are not yet set up. The kids refuse to get out of bed, keep looking for their school supplies, miss the breakfast and go to bed too late. That means a stressful start of the day and not enough sleep. I recommend to start getting back into the school rhythm a couple of days before school starts. And it is worth trying a couple of new strategies: start the morning process a bit earlier to take the pressure off; invest in an efficient alarm clock; use a picture chart, magnet board or list with all the subsequent tasks the kids need to complete in the morning (make the bed, brush the teeth, have breakfast, get dressed etc.). Make them tick the box or place the magnets when they are done, make it a game or competition…adjust the routine to your needs but make sure it’s exactly the same every morning. In the evenings, prepare the clothes and backpacks for the next morning. Keep the same bathing, reading, singing routine every night and try to stick to your timings. Your kids will sleep better and wake up with a smile.
Set the stage for success.
Together with your kids, organize their rooms according to their needs and preferences. Children grow very fast and their environment needs to grow with them. If they feel comfortable in their own rooms, they will be able to focus much better on their homework and their play. Start by checking their wardrobe: do all the clothes fit your child? Do you need to reorganize your autumn clothes? Are the items easily accessible? Then, move to the toys: separate them in categories and simplify by letting go the ones that don’t spark joy (for your kid) and those that they have outgrown. Organize them in boxes, label them and store them in an accessible way. Finally, create a separate working zone with the desk. Clear the top, organize the supplies and make sure your children have everything they need for working. Last but not least, set up a place at the entrance to place the backpack, jackets, shoes and activity bags. If the children have a proper shelf or box for the stuff they bring home, your house will feel much more organized and you will stop looking for the things before leaving the house.
Respect your child’s personality and style.
It’s crucial to involve children as much as possible in the life of the family…make them participate in household tasks and value your children’s competencies. Raise their confidence by handing them more responsibilities. Ask them for their opinion and ideas when setting up the rules and routines. My daughter for example told us she likes when we have a flower on the dining table to feel more joy, so we implemented her idea. Make sure to respect each other’s differences instead of imposing your feelings and opinions on your children. You might find that Fisher Price vintage phone very cute because it reminds you of your childhood, but your kid does not know what to do with it. And to go even further, try to understand your child’s organizing style. Some kids are visual organizers who respond to colors and pictures and need to have all items visible. Others are spatial organizers who think in terms of space, need to have their work area cleared off and are very sensitive to how they and others are feeling? Others again are chronological organizers who think with numbers, remember the order of things and memorize through repetition. If you recognize and respect these traits you will be able to help your children get organized and flourish successfully (more details in “Organizing the disorganized child” by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran).
I wish you all a fun and exciting start of the school year!
P.S.: My recommendations can be (mostly) transposed to another context if needed. Try to replace the words “child” and “kid” with “partner” and see what happens. 🙂
Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash