Is it just me, or does getting the kids back to school require a lot of adjusting? Just like at the beginning of summer, there is a huge shift in what our daily lives as a family look like. So, let’s dig in to recognize (and thus, affirm) some adjustments both parents and children face annually when that school bell rings.
For the Mamas
- The house becomes quiet. Mamas who work from home get to savor the quiet. Mamas who stay at home might have some quiet, free time. There is something about the quiet that I never fully appreciated before becoming a mom! I can focus, and I can proactively think about my next steps in the day. Goals are written in quiet moments. But also, reading can occur. Daytime television doesn’t have to be kid appropriate anymore! We can listen to our inner voice and grow in uniquely personal ways. We find ourselves again. I hope this year the quiet inspires you, back-to-school mama!
- We have to get them out of the door earlier. Some of you may like to practice this for a week or so. I remember the summers that I did that; I was so good at prepping my kiddo! This past summer has not been one of those! Oops! We soaked in our sleep-ins until the rude awakening of that first day. Wake up, get your clothes on, make your bed, eat breakfast, prepare your backpack, pack your lunch, brush your teeth, pray for a great day, and PUT ON SHOES. That’s the drill over here anyway. The hardest one is: Wake up! (What’s your morning school routine like?)
- Welcome home some worn out little people. When our littles get back home at the end of a very full, exciting day, they’re tired. At the beginning of the year, when they’re not used to it, they are VERY tired. And even the extroverts are all peopled out! This may look like screaming in the car, crying about something small like snack options, or napping. So we get to adjust by creating our family’s new back-to-school, welcome-back-home routine. We wash hands, snack, go outside, and watch a show. Every day we manage these big emotions in our small, cranky people. And every day we get a little bit better at it, because that’s what mamas do.
For the Littles
- Our babies have new bedtimes and wake-up times. This one seems to take a couple of weeks to really stick. As adults, it’s hard to get accustomed to this, so just imagine how much harder it is for small children. We have to think about what works best. Giving them outside play time after school might help them fall asleep earlier at night! Waking them gradually and with music might help soothe their bodies as they now have to wake before their body naturally wants to. (And we all know: Getting up before they want to is a discipline they have forgotten during the summer!)
- They have new and different organized eating and snack times. Well, summer snacking, it’s been fun. The new school year means that our kids are now on rigid eating schedules again. I find that my kids are exerting more energy but not taking in quite as much food. They’re usually famished when they walk in our door at the end of the day. Kinder kiddos at our school eat lunch at 10:30 a.m. — 10:30 A.M.! It helps me to learn about their lunch and snack times at school, so I can empathize! Oh, and . . . eat faster during your short lunchtime, kiddos!
- They go from lots of free time to a rigorous schedule every day. They’ve been used to either managing their own time during the summer or being given at least more flexibility in their days than a normal school day. Back to school means back to the grind! Hard work pays off, but sometimes kids may lack some of their resilience right when they go back. It takes some time to build up the kind of self control school requires. Showing our little guys and girls some compassion as they acclimate to the daily challenges schoolwork should bring goes a long way in helping them!
So . . .
Whether you’re packing lunches or buying,
Whether they homeschool or go somewhere,
Whether they’re excited to go back or not,
. . . we wish you and your sweetie(s) the best year!
It won’t be without challenges, but it is the challenges in life that make us grow the most. We will all be stretched, and we will grow. Our time apart will make us appreciate our time together.
As you and your littles face these adjustments and more during this back-to-school season, please know that you are not momming alone! There are other moms all around us, some struggling with similar adjustments and may be needing to connect. Let’s all be willing to reach out to one another in kindness as this school year starts.