September is just one page-turn of the calendar away (how did that happen!), so many of us are thinking ahead to schedules, activities and sports. For some of us, summer was a chance to slow the pace of life for just a little while. No alarms, no school events, fewer meetings on the fridge calendar, and minimal organized activities. That tends to change in a hurry come September. Here are a few hints gleaned from the pages of mothers everywhere, in an attempt to lessen the stress associated with back-to-school blues.
First, and most important, plan ahead. You know your children better than anyone. What makes them tick? In what sort of environment do they thrive? Are they okay with change, or do they need some coaching and preparation for the adjustments that come in fall? It might be as simple as buying a calendar for the wall in their room, so they can see what’s ahead (many come with fun stickers to mark no school days, birthdays and other events). Maybe it means gradually altering bed times so that they are able to get a good night’s sleep before school starts. It could also involve researching available activities in your community, so that you know when various sports and clubs begin.
Don’t forget to talk to the other members of your family before signing everyone up for hot yoga! Seriously, communication is key to a healthy transition to fall schedules. Have a family meeting, and give each person an opportunity to share expectations and goals for the coming year. Use a family calendar (color-coded if you like), or if everyone is going digital, synch your events so that all of you understand the impact of each family member’s activities on one other’s days.
Finally, remember to consider what’s really important. Is the pace of life in your family building relationships, or is it amping up the stress? Some families limit each individual’s involvements to one per season per person, or even just one in total per season. So maybe Susie plays volleyball in the fall, Dad curls in the winter, Johnny plays baseball in the spring, and Mom golf in the summer. There are endless activities to sign up with, but only a few years that your children will be at home. There is a whole lot of value in eating family meals together, going for neighbourhood walks in the evening, and hosting impromptu community barbeques. Studies show that pre teens and teenagers who eat at home with the family eat healthier meals and have higher levels of satisfaction.