Back to School
If you look closely, you can start to see the leaves changing. The green is a little bit duller than it was in the Spring and the cicadas are straining to sound their last beacons for the season. It's dark that much earlier in the evening. Playgrounds ring out again with kids releasing their pent-up energy and dogs wait patiently by the end of the driveway or at the living room window for their kids to come home.
Back to school can be a tough time for moms, and for dads too! Anyone who is home all summer knows that very often the busyness of the summer is overwhelming and then suddenly, it just stops. Whether you work from home or are a stay at home parent, the quiet of the house is deafening and the extremes are overwhelming. Everyone is home, all the time and then no one is home ever. At first it feels really good and like such a relief to know that you can finally do whatever you want for a few hours without someone needing something. Pretty soon, though, you begin to realize that it was nice to be needed!
Those who work outside the home can struggle with this time as well. All summer long the kids are happy and busy doing their kid things. There is peace in the house (maybe?) as one summer adventure leads to the next. Now you come home and the kids are often times sullen and grumpy because they have homework to do and they don't really want to do more chores on top of that. Chores that used to be spaced out across the week now need to be crammed in on the evenings and on weekends...how much fun is that? Late summer and back to school is always a time for adjustment for everyone in a family system. There's no more sleeping in each morning as structure overtakes spontaneity.
This can be a challenging time, but it can also be a very rewarding time provided that you remember what it's like to be a kid headed back to school. The smell of new crayons and pencils and notebooks and the excitement of yet another year will help to soothe the transition. Even if your kid doesn't like to admit that he or she likes school, every child likes to learn. It is their nature. Help them to tap into that in any way that you can.
Think ahead. Plan schedules. Make lunches the night before. Get YOUR sleep so that you can be ready to help them in the morning. Use your time well and be ready to switch over to meet them wherever they are when they get home from school or you get home from work. Read the notes that the teachers send home and look at the assignments that are due each week so that you can support your kids' efforts to stay organized. Most of all, remember that back-to-school is not about you, but rather about helping them to achieve their best selves. We only have them for such a short time! Happy September!
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Dr. Ken Stanek
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