As August reaches an end, the frantic madness of getting children back to school sets in, which must be dealt with at the same time as summer camps close their doors, and children are at home all day.
As a parent, you may be stressed out; wondering how you will have everything ready for the kids for September, not to mind say for yourself returning to study. Take a deep breath now and let’s take an overview of these last days of summer, with advice from Dr Josephine Bleach, Director of NCI’s Early Learning Initiative.
Keep a sense of perspective and focus on what is most important. Frantic last minute shopping leads to frayed nerves and fractured relationships, both yours and your children’s. Children do not need to have everything on the list, all brand new, for the very first day of school. Test the theory that children who cope well with delayed gratification end up as academic success stories.
Take the time to talk it through with them and come up with a strategy for handling any concerns they may have, e.g. assure them that you will have a chat with or write a note to the teacher. Explain to your child why you are not buying them new school things now; how you will get them what they really need immediately with the rest left to when you have more time, maybe more money, and the shops are quieter.
You will be making lists to prepare yourself and your family for the coming term, answering questions such as:
- What are the challenging times for you at college: when are assignments due or exams imminent?
- What could you do to make those times a bit easier?
- Is there anyone who can help, for example; is the child of a near neighbour or friend starting school?
- Could you share lifts or childcare giving each parent extra time and your child a play mate?
- When do you absolutely need to attend the school sports day or Christmas concert?
If you feel you have properly resourced the term ahead, you will feel less stressed.
Get your children actively involved in these preparations: let them make their own lists; let them search for and find the lost and scattered items around the house; let them get the uniforms ready. They will see that the work they are doing to prepare for returning to school, sorting stationery and school bags, is as valuable to the family as the work you are doing: this is a first step in teaching them to be independent, responsible adults.
Before the summer ends, take a family pyjama day: lounge around the house reading books, playing board games, drawing pictures, or looking at old family photographs. Just being with your children is important for you both – it reminds you that there’s more to being a parent than logistics, and it shows them that you respect and value them.
Most importantly, appreciate and enjoy the last few days of summer rather than letting them disappear in a gust of busyness.