September is here and so is the return of early morning traffic, afternoon traffic, the morning hustle of parents getting their children ready for school, the scheduling of pick-ups and drops to extra-lessons and extra-curricular, and the nightly battles of homework and revision...and that’s just for the parents. The students have to face early morning wake-ups, sitting in traffic, being taken to their afternoon activities, and fitting in relaxation time between getting home and homework hour(s). Added to that, they are returning to a school environment which demands that they sit still, get organised, stay on task, separate from their parents and interact with their peers —all of which can be stressful.
Students and parents have to transition from a schedule where the children had at least one or two months off from a highly structured day. It’s never an easy transition from the July/August vacation into the new school year, so I have provided a few tips to make the transition a lot less tumultuous.
Start setting earlier bedtimes and wake up the children earlier as well. This should be done gradually - start moving the bedtimes up 15 minutes earlier and set wake-up times a little earlier until you reach the appropriate bedtime. This can prevent the zombie-like children that are typically walking about the first week of school.
Everyone needs to start getting organised. Schools books should be covered and school supplies purchased. School uniforms are already ironed and school shoes cleaned. This can prevent any morning meltdowns on the first day of school as well as prevent a late night before the first day of school. Also transition this practice to be done on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings, so that parents have the weekend to solve any hiccups that may occur. Encourage the children to pack their bags the night before—and keep this habit up throughout the school year.
Routine, routine, routine! Put a tentative daily schedule in place until all after-school activities are scheduled and a permanent schedule can be set. This schedule should include a morning routine and afternoon to bedtime routine, with planned relaxation time, eating time and family bonding time. Once a routine is established and consistent, the hustle and bustle of parenting becomes manageable and less overwhelming, decreasing the need for those stressful moments of arguments or intense conversations with your children.
My last tip is not only for the parents and the children, but for all of us that are on the roads during those peak morning and afternoon traffic hours. It’s very easy for us to allow the stress of the roads to have us agitated, irritated and frustrated. I would like to challenge everyone to think of this new school year as a rest button, a fresh start, a new school year resolution where we choose to manage those stressful moments with positivity rather than angry horn sounding, bad drives and aggressive gesticulations. Use the moments in the car to teach yourself and the children to have a quiet moment, turn off the radio and just focus on deep-breathing, inhaling and exhaling – breathe to a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, then breathe out to a count of four. Everyone feels stress, and even though I am sure everyone has heard, “Just breathe” a million times, taking deep, centred breaths actually calms the mind and body, and I am sure most of us would prefer to start our days in a positive frame of mind.
Happy new school year 2019-2020!