Your summer was packed with late night soccer games and cottage weekends. But then, come the start of September, your family is up at 7 a.m. every day in order to (just barely) make it to school on time.
How can you get used to this schedule again? Fortunately, time is on your side.
“Parents have to adjust their expectations because it takes pretty much up until the Christmas break to settle into the school year from a behavioural point of view,” says Alyson Schafer, a Toronto-based psychotherapist and author of Ain’t Misbehavin’.
To ease into the “academic new year,” start by cooling yourself off first.
“After a summer of high entertainment and leisurely schedules, kids are now back in this environment with suddenly stressed parents who are trying to do it all,” says Schafer. “Kids think: Mom and dad were so happy and jovial and now they’re yelling at me to get out because we’re going to be late.”
That mood change can trickle down to the kids and trigger misbehaviours such as dawdling and sleep disturbances. And for your children, depending on their age, pitch in to help ease anxiety. And if you haven’t already, start backing up those bedtimes — and wake-up times — so they can get to class on time.
TIPS TO EASE INTO THE SCHOOL YEAR
- 1 Take the week off. If you can. This lightens your schedule so you can focus on getting your kids back into school mode. Can’t do it? At least avoid non-family commitments such as dinner parties this school week.
- 2 Give yourself a buffer. Transitions take time, notes Schafer. So build time buffers into your schedule to avoid being stressed over scheduling.
- 3 Take September to train your kids. Want them to put their backpacks away after school? Empty lunch containers into the kitchen sink? “You have to train them in the first few weeks of September. It’s an upfront-loaded way of parenting but you will get that parenting time back later,” says Schaefer.