September 4, 2013

Parents: Back to School Bliss or Blues? You Choose. ~ Brittney Gaillot

With the school year starting back into full swing, there is both relief and despair at what the new school year will bring—what complaints, what trials and tribulations?

I don’t have the answers to that, but as a second grade class teacher, I have a slightly removed perspective from you parents that might give some insight into the source of parent’s back to school bliss and blues.

1. Do school day preparations the night before.

Getting out the door in the morning can be a headache. Getting your crew out the door on time, with their assemble of school necessitates, without being tempted to cram coffee down the kids’ throat to get them moving, can be nearly impossible. What a hectic way to start the day! Not to mention, parents that do mornings and drop off look haggard as all hell as they go off for their own day of work.

Even for myself, when my outfit is laid out the night before, my lunch is already packed and my shoes and jacket are near the door, I am going to have a more relaxed morning—and I won’t be late!

Don’t ditch your espresso, parents, but build some of these activities into your evening routine (see number two, below) in hope of a smoother morning.

2. Create routines.

Children are able to thrive when they feel the stability of a routine. It will also cut down on the times you have to yell, “It’s bed time! Arg!” (There might be some of this at first, but once the children know you are serious and you stick to it, they will start to relax into the routine).

For example, if children always know that in the evenings they have a routine that looks like this, for example: homework, have dinner (together as a family, if you‘re feeling very brave and up to this), help Mom pack next day lunches, have a bath, pick out next day outfit, Dad reads story and finally, bed time.

In the morning, the schedule will be consistent as well. For example: get up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, put pre-made lunch in backpack, put shoes on and sit at the kitchen table until everyone is ready.

See if these routines can eliminate some stress from both your evening and morning times. Remember, you must stick to the routine, even if it is tough at first, it will make everyone’s lives much easier and therefore more pleasant.

Don’t be alarmed if you notice yourself cutting down on your daily caffeine intake and that you no longer wish to force feed your child a cup with his morning milk.

3. Children will be more inclined to eat their lunches if they help prepare them.

Parents derive much stress over providing a lunch for their kiddos that is both nutritious and somehow, delicious. “What is green and smells? Oh yes, the delicious lunch I prepared for my child, which is now growing…something and no one will eat it!”

I have noticed that the food that the children who help me prepare for snack time in the classroom tend to eat with great joy and pride. Give them tasks that make them feel part of the lunch making process and let them do it the way they see fit (it doesn’t have to be a perfectly “pretty” sandwich, as long as all the “goods” are there)

4. No means no.

This is tricky because we want to be “pleasers”. However, as the adult and especially the parent, set your boundaries. Make sure that your children respect when you do so and realize that you are not a “mean” parent because you say the “N” word. Your children will (over time) find confidence in the fact that Mom and Dad know best. Plus, it is so much nicer to have to say this word just once!

This can apply to play-dates, buying a new game, seeing the latest movie flick, etc. Saying no can also feel like having a “do not disturb“ policy in the parent’s bedroom at night (in case these suggestions work so well, that you now have more time and energy to play a little “hokie” with your sweetie!) It’s okay to have some space that the kiddos know is off limits when the door is closed.

5. Take it with a sense of humor.

Kiddos come home from school tired and crabby. Try not to take it personally if your kiddo is acting a bit like we do when we ourselves come home tired from a long day (my sweetie can attest to the fact that I am a bit crabby when I get home, and it isn‘t until I lay down for 20 minutes and have a snack that I am a reasonable person and partner again). Your child might need a bit of unstructured time, where they can wind down from their busy day.

Try to laugh, giggle or maybe just smile when your angelic kiddo comes home from school and shows you her most snarkie side.

They are the worst to the ones they love best!

Plus, this gives you an opportunity to pour yourself a glass of wine while she stomps off to her room for a bit of after school debriefing.

Which leads me to the bonus (and most important) point:

6. Take care of yourself!

This is one that I often forget, but the truth of it is, we cannot properly take care of others if we ourselves are not at our best. Do this and not only will you feel better, but the people who depend on you will benefit as well. And, when you get good at this step, you can go get yourself a new “back to school outfit” as well.

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Assistant Ed: Steph Richard/Ed: Sara Crolick

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