It’s not just our kids that are getting the back to school jitters – parents are certainly feeling it too! If you’re bracing yourself for whining, tears and reluctant little school-goers, read on! We share some practical ways on how to prepare and support your kids through this transitional period. Chase away the back to school blues with the tips below:
1. Restart Bedtime Routines
We love our late nights and lazy morning sleep-ins during the break, but it’s now time to get back to some structure and schedule! Lisa Artist, Sleep Advisor from The Sleep Council, recommends beginning this transitional routine approximately a week to 10 days before the first day of school. Do this gradually by bringing bedtime around 10 to 15 minutes closer to the norm, every two days. If you are wondering what time your child should be sleeping and waking up, here are the number of hours they should be getting per day. Adjust accordingly so that your kids will be able to wake up fresh and ready to take on the new school day!
- 1 to 3 years old: 12 to 14 hours
- 3 to 6 years old: 10 to 12 hours
- 7 to 12 years old: 10 to 11 hours
- 12 to 8 years old: 8 to 9 hours
Do remember to buffer in time for winding down before the lights go off too. For example, if the ideal time for your child to be asleep is at 8:30pm, head to bed earlier by 8:00pm for enough time to unwind with snuggles, chats and storybooks.
2. Start Talking About School
School has probably been at the back of everyone’s mind for some time, so start talking about school and remind your kids of all the things that they enjoy about it. Have conversations about any worries they might have about school restarting, and give them a safe space to share their feelings and concerns. If you are unsure about what exactly to discuss, say, or do, here are some pointers to consider.
- Share what you can. For example, your child’s class teacher’s name (or picture), any new upcoming activities etc.
- Predict and prepare for feelings. For example, “What are you looking forward to, wondering about or feeling unsure about?”
- Acknowledge any uncertainties. For example, “It’s hard to not know things. But what we do know is that I will always be here for you.”
- Express your confidence in your child. For example, “You can do it! There may be challenging moments, but I believe you have the courage to get through it and learn something from it.”
3. Reconnect with School Friends
If your child hasn’t been keeping in contact with their school friends during the break, it’s time to organise a few play dates. Plan a couple of activities with schoolmates nearer to the start of school, so your child can reconnect with the friends who they will be seeing on a daily basis. The comfort of having familiar, close friends around in a new class on the first day back can go a long way towards helping them resettle! You could organise a play date at one of the many local indoor playgrounds, outdoor playgrounds, or even take the chance to check out new kid-friendly attractions around town. And if the mamas want their own time to catch up over coffee, there are a couple of wonderful cafes with play areas around Klang Valley too.
4. Reduce the Morning Rush Stress
Waking your kids up, feeding them, getting them dressed, and bracing the morning traffic to get to school on time… phew! It sure can feel like an almost impossible feat on many (if not most) mornings. Prepare ahead for a calm(er) morning. Pack your child’s school bags, lay out their uniforms and prep lunch boxes the day before. Do take into consideration the extra time you may need in case your kids refuse to step out of the house, and mentally prepare yourself for this very likely situation! An unhurried morning with a mama that’s less frazzled will set the tone for the kiddos; so they can face their day with a calmer, more positive attitude.
5. Acknowledge and Debrief
Post-holiday blues affect all of us, young and old alike. Instead of brushing off your child’s very real feelings with a “oh don’t be silly, you love school” comment, try acknowledging those real feelings. Sometimes, all our kids may need is just a safe and accepting space to share their feelings. You could also have debriefing sessions after those early days back at school. Try this simple, creative Five Finger Game to get those heart-to-heart debriefing sessions going.
Five Finger Guide:
Thumb: The Good Stuff. What were the things that made you happy today?
Pointer finger: Anticipation. What made you feel excited today? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Middle finger: In-Between Feelings. Was there anything that you felt unsure about or uneasy? What are your strategies for managing the situation if the same thing happens again tomorrow?
Ring finger: Commitment. Is there something you did today that you would like to keep as part of your schedule and to commit to continue everyday?
Pinky finger: Fun things. What made you laugh today?
And that’s it! We wish our #makchicmumsquad and all your children a smoother, positive transition back to school after this long break. For more tips on preparing your children for their return to school, read our previous article: Ask the Expert with Dr Rakhee Yadav: Preparing our Children for Physical School.