It's that time of year again. The time when all parents, children, and teachers are transitioning back to the structure that the school year brings. Even if the school year has minimal impact on you, you probably still notice the increase in traffic on your commute and less kids in the grocery store with their parents in the middle of the day. Either way, the end of summer and beginning of fall can bring about a myriad of emotions. Some parents feel relief that they can get everyone out of the house and back into some semblance of "normal routines". Some parents feel anxious about the school year, especially if their child is transitioning to a new school or starting a big milestone year (kindergarten, starting middle school, etc.). Kids and teachers can also experience a roller coaster of emotions heading into a new school year. Feeling both nervous and excited is perfectly normal. So, as parents, what should we do about?
Start by being kind to your self and modeling that behavior for your child. The pressure on parents to make sure your child is fully prepared for the next school or to buy them brand new shoes, clothes, hair cuts, school supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes (should I keep going?)...can be overwhelming. But it will be okay. Set realistic expectations for yourself and for your kids. Don't sweat the small stuff and you can help your kid learn that lesson just by watching you.
Start setting up routines for the new year PRIOR to the school year starting. This will help tremendously in transitioning to new patterns and get you all off to a better start. This goes for everyone-getting back into a good sleep routine, can be crucial for managing stress (for children and adults). And nobody wants a sleep deprived kid starting a big new change!
Connect with your child's teacher and other parents around you. Your kid's teacher will be the one spending countless hours with your little ones so starting open communication with them early on can certainly relieve some anxiety. Attend the walk through, meet and greet or socials the school sets up ahead of time. This will help reduce nervous anticipation for parents and kids alike.
Talking with other parents can help us realize we aren't the "only one" feeling overwhelmed about a new school year. Word to the wise: don't use this as an opportunity to start comparing to others (yourself or your child). Focus on your own family's individual accomplishments and progress over time and you'll probably all feel better.
Most importantly, talk to each other. Talk to your kids about how they are feeling about the start of a new school year. Normalize feelings of nervousness and share about times when you felt nervous. Opening up dialogue with your kids about this will not only help them feel more comfortable, but may relieve your own stress just by knowing what's going on in you kid's head. Here's to a great school year for all!