Starting preschool is one of the many exciting milestones of childhood. However, it can also be a stressful time for both children and parents, especially if it is your child’s first time going to school. By taking some time to prepare your child and yourself, the transition can go smoothly for your whole family.
Sailing Smoothly into the New School Year
Check in with yourself – You first! How are you feeling about the shift? Truly and honestly, what feelings does this time of year evoke?
Excitement? Relief? Anxiety? Dread? Exhaustion? Joy?
It’s likely there’s a whole soup of emotions swirling around inside of you. Feeling mixed emotions is normal. Allow it all. Take time to check in with yourself and honestly and lovingly explore what you are feeling in the midst of this transition. Your growing people are tuned into you. They are vibing off of your emotional tone. Knowing where you are will allow you to become more present and steady in yourself. This, in turn, allows your growing people the freedom to be where they are and feel what they feel. And that’s going to allow them to find their way.
Fill your cup – It’s easy, and sometimes feels unavoidable in the midst of all the have tos of this time of year, to abandon your self-care. DON’T DO IT! The best way to support your growing people in the midst of this transition, which can be wobbly as everyone gets used to the routines and the demands, is to make sure you are doing what you need to do to stay relatively steady. Figure out a few basic things you can do for yourself, that don’t take too much time, and do them. Every day.
Here are three suggestions. Pick one, or find your own, and experiment with it:
>> Get up 10-30 minutes earlier than everyone, drink a big glass of water and jump up and down (trust me on this one).
>> Meditate for 2-10 minutes in the morning.
>> Write down at least 10 appreciations every day.
>> Go for a walk. Alone.
Make space - Heading back to school is a change. Change can evoke big feelings. Big feelings are necessary as we grow and find our way into new situations and routines. Give everyone a lot of space as you start the transition. Be spacious with your words. Be spacious with your concerns. Be spacious with your transitions. Slow down and be present to what is. It’s not going to stay this way. Tell yourself, “We are in the back to school transition. I need to take care of myself and hold relatively steady. I trust we are finding our new groove.” Put a frame around the next several weeks in your mind. It can save you a lot of unnecessary discomfort and bring a whole lot more peace.
Load your littles up with emotional meals and snacks – Getting back into the school groove can be a mixed bag of easy and challenging moments. If you want to influence more of the moments toward smooth sailing, be sure to fill up their emotional love tanks. Here’s how…
>> In the morning, once you’ve filled your own cup a bit, spend some time giving each child some special love and attention. Even if it’s just a sweet hug, a little extra eye contact, or a few words of appreciation, connect emotionally before moving toward the tasks at hand.
>> Give them “preminders” (ideally the night before and then again in the morning) by kindly letting them know how the morning is going to flow.
>> Take lots of deep breaths and do what you can to stay present as you get everyone where they need to go.
>> Don’t forget the physical meals and snacks too. A little protein in the morning and right after school can often go a LONG way.
Don’t expect it AND don’t be surprised by it – There might be meltdowns.
Let me repeat that.
THERE MIGHT BE MELTDOWNS.
There might be regressions and not listening and unsavory behavior. Don’t expect it but don’t be surprised by it. And, most importantly, don’t take it personally. They are adjusting. They are exhausted. They are using up their human brain energy to “sit still, be good, pay attention, listen to the teacher, don’t touch that, stop wiggling, be nice to your classmates, learn learn learn!” for 6-8 hours a day. They are wiped out and they are not going to come home in their most resourced, human brain place. Be patient. Be loving. Be boundaried. Be willing to let some stuff slide.
Create the physical and emotional space for them to come home and blow off steam. It’s not personal. It’s dysregulation. Be the one who help them re-regulate. If you want to hear more about this check out this video I did two years ago.
Oh, and did I mention your self-care?
Here’s to a smooth and sweet transition back to school.