I have summed up my thoughts about back to school with 10 lessons I’ve learned after living through and watching kids and families go back to school for 69 years.
- It’s OK to be happy.
Back to school time for parents can mean less childcare concerns, more ability to concentrate on housework or office work while kids are occupied at school, and maybe – if you’re lucky – some extra me-time. (See Me-Time for You Is Good for Your Children.)
- It’s OK to be sad.
You may miss your kids, especially if they are going to school for the first time. Be sure to tell your kids that you miss them while they are gone. And, be sure to tell them how you deal with missing them too – maybe you plan an after-school snack for them, play some music that you know they like, or just think about that big bear hug you’re going to give them when they get home. If you are super sad find a friend to talk to about it, and be sure you don’t talk about your sadness to your child in a way that may leave him feeling responsible – like he could make you happy if he stayed home. (See Whose Feelings Are They?)
Be on the lookout for delayed reactions to these fears or nerves. Your child may suck it up in the first few days or weeks (months for older kids – like college kids), but down the road, he may suddenly start having trouble going to school. Just go back to square one and pretend it is the first few days of school and be and extra good listener and be extra comforting to help him deal with his fears. (See First Days of School.)
- Balance your messages – things you say and do.
Kids need to be appreciated for who they are – just because they are special human beings. Kids also need to be appreciated for the many things they can do well. School puts the emphasis on those things your child does well. Make sure you are helping balance his messages by giving him lots of I-love-and-enjoy-you messages at home – regardless of what he can or cannot do. (See And Calm Fell Over the Household and First Days of School.)
Kids can miss mom-time, a favorite toy or blanket, TV shows, neighborhood friends, a pet, etc. Be comforting about their feelings of loss. Hug them, fix them their favorite food, plan special time with them, etc. (See First Days of School.)