My son starts third grade next week, and this is the first year where instead of being all, “Yay for friends and learning!” he’s more like, “yeah, school, great.” I can understand how he feels. He’s got nine months of work ahead of him and dude would rather watch reruns of Pokémon.
Crash-landing from lazy holidays and extra screen time into a far more challenging term isn’t easy, and the transition is one that affects the whole family. Which is why if ever there were a time for hacks, this is it. So we’re going to give you everything we’ve got to help ease you into the new school year.
That first morning is always particularly hectic. Alarm clocks will fail to go off, children will be cranky, you’ll spill coffee all down the front of your nice work attire, and you’ll think, “Cheers to another year of this!”
Mornings have always sucked, and we have every reason to believe they always will suck, but who would we be if we didn’t try to find a way to make mornings flow a little easier? (Actually, we’re overachievers, so we found five ways.)
If your parenting experience is anything like my parenting experience, kids are just sort of done at the end of the school day. This is true all year long, but it’s especially true at the beginning of the school year, when they’re getting back in the groove of being “on” all day long.
Part of getting through the after-school meltdowns is simply accepting them as a part of reality; the other part is to do a few things to support them (and yourself) through the transition.
The back-to-school transition is trying in the best of circumstances, but if you’re co-parenting with an ex, things can be even more stressful. There are some proactive steps you can take, though, to lay out expectations for everyone involved and establish a sense of predictability for your kids.
Remember the 90s, when wearing just one strap of your backpack was cool and wearing both straps meant you were hopelessly nerdy? Thankfully, kids don’t seem to care about that particular brand of dumbassery these days. (Also, why did we think a winter jacket was only socially acceptable if it was unzipped??)
But even with two straps, those things can become surprisingly heavy and uncomfortable for a kid to carry around. But you can protect your kid’s back from a too-heavy or ill-fitting backpack.
Homework is the necessary(?) evil from which our kids — and therefore we — cannot escape. Well, I declare this is the year that homework is not going to be such a stressful endeavour in our homes because this year we’re going to help them manage their homework anxiety, we’re going to try some of these concentration hacks and we’re going to be more flexible and creative about where they actually complete their homework.
(Fingers crossed, everyone.)
If you want to do a cute thing for your little kid that will make them think of you every day (but don’t want to commit to writing a daily note or drawing a picture five days a week on their foil-covered ham sandwich), we’ve got an idea for you. Write sweet notes on their pencils.
Want to remember how cute their little kindergarten voice sounded when they’re all grown up and heading off to their freshmen year of college? Do like this dad and interview your kids every year after their first day of school. Go ahead, watch the video and try not to cry.
Of course, you’ll want to talk to them about how their day was for all the other days that come after the first one, but pulling any details out of them gets harder and harder each year. Their day was fine, they learned nothing.
That’s ok; we’re older and wiser and we’ve got ways of making them talk.
Starting over in a new classroom with a new teacher (and sometimes different classmates) is hard. It would be like taking on a new position at work with a new schedule once a year — except we’re adults so, in theory, we have a few more coping strategies for managing stress. Once in a while, we all need a mental health day — and our kids do, too.
OK, you’ve now done all you can do. May your kids go forth and have a great school year.