I don’t know about your kids, but going back to school can be a love-hate relationship at our house. First, it’s the rushing around getting all the things you left until the last minute, then once that’s all done it’s the waiting game. Now that we have a tween in our house, the nervous energy sure has stepped up a notch. Once upon a time going back to school was exciting. This year it’s quite exhausting. The emotional rollercoaster of anxiety was starting to take its toll on all of us. However, we’ve started implementing some new strategies which are working really well.
We’ve found that being organised, letting our kids see that they have everything ready, is a great visual checklist. It’s much the same for me to be honest. If I know what’s on my list, and that I’ve ticked it off, I feel more in control. So make a list and include everything from uniforms to stationery, and give them a highlighter.
Get the kids to pack their bags the night before, even go as far as packing their lunch box and putting it in the fridge. The anxiety of leaving something behind on the first day can really affect their sleep. A good nights sleep before school starts will make that first morning so much smoother.
I always like to get them up a little earlier as well. If they see and feel me rushing around, it’s going to transfer to them. Get them to bed earlier, and get them up earlier. Plan to be at school earlier than normal. That way if your timeline blows out you have room to move.
Our house in the mornings used to be a battleground. It was a challenge getting them out of bed, getting them away from the TV and getting them to the breakfast bench. I was losing my cool, and this wasn’t helping the situation at all. So we completely flipped our school mornings on their head and we haven’t looked back.
Our house is now full of singing, laughter, organisation and responsibility and it all began with music. Now, this isn’t going to work for every household, however, if your morning madness isn’t working then it’s worth a try.
My daughter creates a few different morning playlists. It’s important not to let them choose the songs in the morning. It’s got to be used for a happiness injection not something to argue over. So it’s music on, TV off.
My daughter has the job of making breakfast and my son packs the lunchboxes. Dancing is important, so is singing and bumping bums every now and then. It’s not only good for the kids, but it’s also very good for my mindset.
Anxiety down, happiness up.
How you talk about school to your kids, has a huge impact on their thoughts. Let’s face it, how many times have you heard your kids repeat your words to someone else. They are always listening and absorbing. Conversations about being with their new ‘awesome’ teacher this year will have a massive effect on their perception of the teacher. Fun activities like the swimming carnival, excursions later in the year, even different sport, can encourage more positive thoughts about going back to school.
Don’t forget to mention their friends. One of the best things about school is to simply hang out with friends.
If you’ve got a child transitioning to high school, support them the best way you can. It’s a big change for them, and they still need you to shine the torch, just don’t cramp their style.
Keep things simple
The first couple of weeks of going back to school are exhausting for them and us. Getting back into the swing of things sure does take a lot of brainpower. It’s always worked for us to keep their activity after school minimal. I think one of the most important things is to let them talk about what they did at school. This is before they turn on the TV or fire up their iPads.
We sit down in a circle and one at a time they tell me about their day. How are they finding the teacher; what kids are in their class this year; how’s the new classroom etc. If you do it all together it helps your quieter or younger kids remember their day just by listening to their siblings. Every day we do this for a few weeks so I can make sure they are settling in okay. We don’t plan any other activities and it helps them transition from home life back to school life, much easier.
Going back to school anxiety
My kids usually take a few weeks to settle back into school life. However, if you’re still worried about your child after a few weeks back at school, you should talk to your child’s teacher. Beyond Blue also have a child mental health checklist you can do online. Help is never far away and it’s important that your child also knows they are not alone.
Reference: Accessed 27th January 2020: https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-6-12/mental-health-conditions-in-children/anxiety/tackling-back-to-school-anxiety