6 tips for a stress-free return to school
Summer’s over and school shirts need to be ironed, shoes buffed up and book bags dug out from the back of cupboards. The return to school can be a stressful time for everyone, from parents to children alike – even the dog will feel the sense of apprehension in the air.
But whether it’s starting school for the first time, moving up to a different class, or making the jump from primary to secondary school, you can take a few simple steps to make getting into the school routine as stress free as possible.
Preparation, preparation, preparation!
Getting sorted the night before can make the start to any school day a lot calmer. Make sure your children know what they’re going to wear – especially important if there’s no school uniform and you want to avoid a fashion parade. Is their PE kit ready? Have letters for school trips been signed and put in book bags? Have you got the correct change for their dinner money?
If it ain’t broke…
There’s a lot of truth in the saying that children love routine – it gives them a sense of security. It should all begin with regular bedtimes and set times to complete homework. In the morning it’s a good idea to get them into the habit of coming down to breakfast dressed and ready to go, and in our house we enforce a strict ‘no electronic devices before school’ ban (although, as an incentive, you could dangle the carrot of five minutes TV if they’re ready early).
Write it down!
It can also help to encourage your children to complete a diary every day, somewhere they can list what homework they’ve got to do and when it needs to be in by. You could use a dry-wipe board too and include school trips and after-school clubs, as well social events such as sleepovers and parties to give it all an element of fun. Perhaps the children could come up with their own colour code for certain activities?
Enjoy some retail therapy
Planning a shopping trip is a great way to get children enthusiastic about their return to the classroom. Give them a budget and let them work out what they can buy and where the best places to go are – visiting real shops is so much more engaging than simply shopping online. You could even make a day of it with lunch at a favourite café.
Make food fun
Talking of lunch, packed lunches have the potential to bring the most efficient household to a grinding halt, and staring into an empty fridge for inspiration can bring any parent to their knees, so try and get as much as possible done the night before.
It also pays to involve your children in what’s actually going into their lunch boxes. This can be a great excuse to get creative at the weekend, rolling up your sleeves and getting busy with them in the kitchen, coming up with culinary delights that mean lunch boxes will come back empty rather than rattling with half eaten sandwiches and a squashed banana.
Try out different sandwich fillings, different combinations of pasta and vegetables, as well as healthier, home-baked treats such as flapjacks. But remember that today’s favourite will be top of the dislike list next week, so keep on experimenting!
Keeping a lid on your own emotions is also important. If you’re stressed and anxious it’s only natural that your children will pick up on this. Smile, be happy and enthusiastic, and laugh a lot – apparently it releases stress-busting hormones and can make the start of the school day much jollier for everyone.