We all know that back to school season is a busy time for children of all age groups, but it can be just as challenging for the parents as well. Not only are they on the run for school supplies and other essentials, but parents may still be in the mindset of the summer season with the sun shining high in the sky. Kids may be focusing on and stressing about what their teacher(s) will be like, how hard the new grade level homework will be, and how in the world will they ever keep up. Parents may need to pause and acknowledge what their children may be feeling. The Juniper Center clinicians have come up with a list of helpful tips and tricks for parents to help the transition from summer time to back to school be as seamless as possible.
Have a Routine Set in Stone
Let’s be honest, the back to school season is a very busy and stressful time for most, so it’s important to have a routine in place so that parents don’t forget what’s going on each day. Even before the school day starts, it might be a good idea to implement a schedule into the minds of both kids and parents. Juniper Center clinician Christina Vargas suggests “several weeks before school starts, start implementing kiddos’ before and after school routine, so that they get acclimated to that schedule again. From wake up time, morning hygiene, breakfast, and bedtime routine, starting to reintroduce the schedule early will go a long way.”
Try to Teach Healthy Eating Habits
Parents really have to put time aside to plan meals for their children; not only dinners for when they are at home, but also lunches that they take to school every day. It can be a bit challenging to do that, but it is key to remember the importance of healthy eating habits since it not only benefits the physical side of the human body, but it can also benefit the mental health aspect of the human body as well. A 2019 review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased fruit and vegetable consumption positively impacts psychological health, and daily vegetable consumption has a therapeutic impact by reducing symptoms of depression in people with clinical depression.
For Those with Kids Going to College…
Having kids head off to college is always a hard thing for parents to wrap their heads around and adjust to, since this will most likely be the first time that they are leaving the nest and heading out into the world to spread their wings learning new & exciting things. Children get a chance to be independent while also trying to hang on to all of the life lessons that their parents have taught them up to this point in their lives in order to truly know what to do in certain situations. Before they go off to college, it might be a good idea for parents to set up a weekly check-in call with their kids to see how everything is going for them and to see if there is anything that they might need advice or help with. It can also be helpful for families to establish boundaries about how they will all operate in the new reality – frequency of calls, how and when to give advice, when to get involved vs. letting the young adult handle roommate challenges on their own. Setting these boundaries before leaving the nest can help take the emotion out of the conversation and set your family up for a successful transition.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Step Back
There will be times where the pressure of being in the back to school mode can be a bit too much for parents and they sometimes have to take a step back to take a few mental notes about what is going on around them. This time of year may be difficult, but it’s important for everyone to keep their heads held high and to rely on each other as a strong support system, both mentally and emotionally. Taking a step back can allow anyone, whether it would be kids or their parents, to reflect on what can be done to make things better can be beneficial. It’s important for everyone in a family to work off of their strengths and weaknesses to make sure that everyone has the best back to school season that they can.
“Overall, I would emphasize that parenting involves so much use of yourself as a person. And that taking care of yourself as a parent is key to your child’s success. So doing reflection on how you parent and how you might want change or what to keep can be very helpful.” -Garrett Pluhar-Schaeffer