Back to school.
A phrase that strikes both bliss and fear in all parents’ hearts. If you are a veteran, you’ve totally got this, right? If you are a first-time mom you might have no idea what to expect on your child’s first day of school. In either case, back-to-school means prepping your kids to have a successful year. And with prepping comes excitement often wrapped in stress.
My colleague Tara Ohayon, mom of four and Director of Early Childhood Education at the J, remembers that “Back-to-school prep and all of the excitement and anxiety that goes along with can be EXHAUSTING! I felt that once the kids were actually in school, that I needed a very long nap! Then the next step came quickly – coordinating everybody’s after-school activities and schedules. No matter how many children you have, this can be tricky and again EXHAUSTING! And then there is the mom brain which is constantly going of who needs to be where when, how this one is feeling about their friendships in school, why the other one seems to be in their room a lot and on and on and on…”
And then there’s me, a first-time mom of a 13-month who just started school. While I knew it would be a transition, I didn’t realize how off my child’s sleep schedule would be. And, while I knew there would be some tears, I didn’t realize how many there would be (not just from my son…#alltheemotions). By the end of the week, I too found myself EXHAUSTED!
So what is the best advice a veteran and a first-timer can give you?
We both agree that as parents we must take care of ourselves during the organized chaos of the school year. We are always last on our own lists and we cannot fill anyone else’s cup unless ours is already full.
Here are the ABCs of taking care of YOU so you can better take care of the KIDS:
A. ASK the questions. Nerves are real for both your kids and YOU. Find the time to connect. Whether it is breakfast, dinner, or in the car – find time and regroup. Ask how they are feeling about going to school. What are they most excited and nervous about? Talk about YOUR day with them – your successes and what you struggled with. This way you can make sure they are in a good space. And, now you’re in a good space.
B. BE the example. Kids are very observant. Why would they eat a healthy breakfast if you don’t? Why would they stay active if you don’t? Remember to put healthy eating and exercise at the top of YOUR list. Maybe even do it together – behavior is learned – let them learn from the best – YOU!
C. CUT the noise. Turn off the phones, turn off the TV and enjoy each other’s company. We can miss special moments when we are on our devices. Be mindful, turn off the noise, and live in the moment.