Things to remember when transitioning from summer life to school schedules
As the summer winds down, we begin to prepare for the school year ahead. Preparation is more than a good idea. How you prepare and choose to group handle your transitions will have a huge impact on stress levels for both kids and parents. Planning how to handlefor transitions can lead to family harmony, and facing these challenges together can be a great opportunity to mentor your kids.
Start transitioning to your school schedule early. It takes 21 days to create a habit. Chances are there are some summer habits that have become ingrained and very comfortable for kids and parents alike — — everything from wake -up times to bedtime routines.
Along with starting school comes stress — — both eustress (positive stress) and distress (negative stress). Kids making new friends can be eustress. Being rushed out the door and panicking through, what has become happily forgotten, school traffic is distress. Whether the stress is positive or negative in nature, it still amounts to stress.
A little preparation can head off over-stress catastrophe. The checklist items are easily identified. Shop for new school clothes that fit (they grow up so fast!), buy school supplies, go to parent/teacher orientation — — every check off the list raises comfort levels for parent and child.
Changing behaviors are is much more difficult. Habits and behaviors are comfortable and rooted. It’s uncomfortable to acclimate to new habits; thus, changing them is stressful by nature. The good news is you can get ahead of this stress to whatever degree you feel comfortable. You can change your routines before school starts to get the stress of change out of the way rather than compounding it. You can still enjoy summer with an earlier bedtime and earlier rise time. Handling schedule changes ahead of time can be a huge relief on the amount of stress on your family in those first few weeks of school and make the transition easier on everyone.
Along with bedtimes and wake -up times, make sure your other routines are in place. Baths. Snacks. Bedtime stories. Levels of responsibility change from year to year, and your child may take a little longer at bedtime to brush their his/her own teeth and take their his/her own bath. If bad habits have been adopted, such as using electronics right before sleep, now is a good time to reset those behaviors. Let everyone get used to the updates in routines before school begins — — that this can help keep the sacred bedtime on time, and reduce going- to -bed commotion.
A new school year often comes with routine exams. If your child is playing sports, then there is almost always a physical. As long as they children are getting a sports physical, find out if you can knock out the annual physical in the same visit. There is always a push at the dentist’s office as parents try to get their children’s dental visits out of the way before school and sports schedules take over. Eye exams are another typical health -related appointment that may be good to take care of before school begins.
Take a Team Approach
When facing the challenges of transitions, involve the whole family. The model of one person handling everything is a recipe for stress, and one unhappy family member affects the whole family. When the whole family is involved, making the change can be educational for the kids and help them develop and grow as responsible planners and proactive managers of time. Don’t just send your kids to bed early to prepare for the upcoming year; let them know why and how going to bed on time helps the family transition to the new school year. Like many lessons, they may not appreciate it until they are in their twenties or parents themselves, but they will benefit from it. Take the extra time and effort and pay it forward.
Rather than battling stress without understanding and planning, take the much better path of intentionally making adjustments according to your family strategy. Of course, every family has to choose their strategy based on their schedules and the levels of risk they are willing to take when it comes to predictable stress. Managing is just that, managing — — educating, predicting, planning, and working your plan. When a bump comes along, take it in stride and get back on course. Know that half of handling stress is not letting it get to you. The other half is managing it.
As with everything, the learning and adventure along the way makes the journey. It is an especially rich journey when you are surrounded by family.
Bryan Carter is an author, business owner, father, and husband. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi, with his wife, Shelley, and their two beloved children, Jack and Emma.