Three steps to survive back to school. Try Not To Overreact, Set Boundaries, and Take Extra Good Care of YOU.

I don’t know about y’all, but back-to-school time is always a humdinger in our family!  Don’t get me wrong, I am always grateful to have my little lovelies go back into the care of those sainted teachers. But…

It’s just not easy!

There is the information overload that comes in the form of a zillion papers with pages and pages of “important information.”  There’re the last-minute changes to the marching band schedule – and the attitude of, “well, I’m sorry, but we just didn’t know that we have to be in the next county over for an entire day and it’s mandatory, so your child better be there…”

There’s the, “I’m auditioning for the school play!” even though it’s only the second week of school and, “I HAVE to be present for EVERY practice and rehearsal for the next two-and-a-half months!” And, “Oh did I mention that the practices are 3 to 4 days-a-week after school and you have to leave work early to pick me up right at 5:00 because the teacher will NOT STAY after 5:00!”

And, of course, my favorite… the daily meltdowns of my tween daughter because of all of the drama from the other girls at school.

It’s enough to drive a Peaceful Living mamma crazy!

SO WHAT’S A PARENT TO DO???

I have three simple steps for keeping your sanity during the back-to-school transition:

  • Try Not To Overreact: I have found this to be helpful in two scenarios. First, with the information overload. And, second, when their grades are not up-to-snuff at first.
    • With the information overload it’s best to make a stack of the papers and go through a portion of them each day/ evening. You do not have to get through them all in one night. Try to create an even amount so that you can go through a few a day for a week. I start with the information sheets for the schools on the first day and then go on to the syllabi and putting the “Remind” codes into my phone two or three at a time each day.
    • With the grades, remember, it’s the first couple of weeks. The kids are just getting used to their new teachers. This year, my son who is a straight “A” student, but who is also a new high school freshman, earned an “F” his first week in Algebra. I thought my husband was going to blow a gasket! But when we talked to his teacher she reassured us that he should do fine in the class and that she is there during both before and after school to help if he needs it. By the end of the second week he brought it up to a “B.”  We (cough, cough, my husband) overreacted and caused a lot of unnecessary stress!
  • Set Boundaries: This can be so hard to do with the teachers! I love teachers. I was a teacher! But, sometimes I have to remind them that last-minute information and changes are very stressful on families. In our lives we have found this to be the case with the teachers who are in charge of the afterschool programs like drama and band. Here are a couple of samples of mindful communication strategies:
    • Mr. Band Director, I understand how important the marching band is. And we are really happy that our child is playing in the band. But, I’m afraid that the recent addition of a mandatory band competition on Saturday, the … with only two-weeks-notice, does not work for our family. We have something planned on that day which we planned around the band calendar that you sent out to us and posted online.
    • Ms. Theater Director, I am so thrilled that my daughter is in the school play this year! On the other hand I am not sure how I can get to the school by 5:00 to pick her up three days a week. I think there are other working parents who are probably in the same boat. Would you be willing to extend the pickup time to 5:30 or perhaps help us to contact one another to arrange carpools?
    • Or finally, set a boundary with your child.  We told our daughter that we are available to pick her up at 5:00 two days a week, AND that we can carpool other kids, but that she was responsible for helping to arrange the carpool and to find rides the other one to two days a week.
  • Take Extra Good Care of Yourself: Yesterday evening, after dealing with my daughter yelling at me about how I have to pick her up from play practice, my husband came home and dumped all over me about his stressful day at work, and my son informed me of the last-minute band schedule changes.  I honestly felt like my head was going to explode! And I started my day with yoga. That usually calms me through to the end of the day. But yesterday was just too much!

In years past I would either have yelled at everybody for stressing me out or I would have gone to bed for the rest of the night.  But now, because I have my peaceful living techniques, I looked at my family and said, “dinner is in the slow cooker, please help yourselves, I am going to go meditate because I am feeling very overwhelmed.”   

It may take some training to get your family used to you doing things like going and meditating, but they will get used to it. And they will appreciate the effect it has on improving your mood! So, use your Peaceful Living mindfulness techniques and be okay with taking extra good care of yourself during this stressful time.

Okay, actually there is one more…. Remember, you all will be in the swing of things with school soon! So, “this too shall pass” 

What do you do to ease into back-to-school? I would love your comments and shares!

Love & Light,

Jen

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