The school holidays are drawing to a close and it’s time to get organised for the new school and work year ahead. Not feeling prepared? Don’t worry, you’re far from alone.
“Holidays disrupt routines for parents as well as children. To have the best start possible to the New Year, it’s time to get ready both physically and mentally and to get the entire family’s routine back on track,” advises positive psychology coach Kate Wilkie from Flourishing Mothers.
(Flourishing Mothers is a coaching service to help mothers thrive and live flourishing lives by building resilience to stress and boosting wellbeing.)
Kate recommends thinking about resetting the entire family’s eating and sleeping times at least a few days before school and work start and it’s great to get your kids involved in the planning so that they understand what you’re trying to achieve.
“During the holidays it’s fantastic to savour all the fun experiences you’re having but as the holidays come to an end you might need to be more mindful of normal routine,” she said.
“Helping your kids to get back into the habit of earlier bedtime and less screen time could be a useful goal, and set you all up for less stress and happier mornings in the new school year.”
Kate also recommends sitting down with your children early on in the New Year to put together a to-do list, which might include shopping for school uniforms and stationery.
“Sit down with the family wall-chart or diary and schedule in dates for shopping,” she said.
Holidays are meant for relaxing but if you leave it to the last minute to get organised for work and school, Kate warns you can end up stressed and frazzled, ruining the benefits from your time off.
“It may be the last thing you want, but being proactive and organised will make you enjoy the benefits of the summer holidays much longer.
“If your children feel nervous about the new school year, there are many ways you can empower them so they feel more prepared, both mentally and physically by discussing going back to school with them ahead of time.”
Here are her top tips on how to get your children ready for going back to school.
1. Encourage your child’s natural strengths and talents
If you have a curious child, get them excited by telling them about all the things they will be learning this year. If you have a creative child, they might want to help cover their text books with colourful paper or write their name on their pencil case or lunch box.
2. Give them responsibility
Back to school is a great opportunity to give your kids some responsibility. If you let them do some things on their own they will feel more competent and confident which is great for their wellbeing. So have them choose their own stationery and encourage them to pack their own backpack. Helping kids become more independent is also great for the wellbeing of Mums!
3. Teach them the power of being organised
We all know how it feels running around the house the morning of first day of school, making lunch and packing. Avoid that frazzled feeling and teach your children the power of organisation by getting everything ready the night before. Together, make the lunch box, pack the backpack and make sure the school uniform is ironed and good to go for a relaxed start to the morning.
4. Plan ahead
Schedule time to shop for shoes and uniforms together at least one week before school start so you don’t leave it until the last minute. Sit down with the family wall-chart or diary and schedule in dates for shopping. Planning together with your child will teach them that being proactive and organised is the best way to prepare for anything in life, and it gives them a sense of ownership and control.
5. Create a gratitude habit
Talking to your kids about what went well during the day is a great way to create and share positive emotions. Start with paying attention to the positives and it can help to put problems into perspective and discuss challenges more calmly.
6. Talk about concerns
Just as with adults, if your child’s fears go unexpressed, the fears can feed upon themselves and increase anxiety, so encourage your children to voice any worries they may have before school starts. Give your child the opportunity to talk about their fears and concerns about the new school year, and work with them to come up with solutions together.
7. Celebrate the change
A great way to reduce back to school stress and get your kid in a positive mindset, is to celebrate the new school year. Take your child out for their favourite meal, surprise them with colourful stationery, or take them to see that movie they’ve been wanting to see