By Michal Lloyd
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy. The fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.”Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward from Porgy and Bess
I used to get melancholy every year as summer ended. The leaves turned, the Kokanee returned to Redfish Lake, and a cool breeze blew in. The chill meant the party was over, and it was time to put away my childish ways and head back to school. There was work to be done.
Getting ready for the new school year isn’t easy, so here are some tips:
Know There Will Be Stress
No matter what we do, there is always stress when there is transition. Whether it is from summer into fall or elementary school to junior high, that is why humans created rituals. Creating a family tradition can make a change more manageable. Graduation is an example of a practice that helps us move from one thing to another. Is there something your family can do as a group to celebrate a new school year?
If you are anything like me, you have an unrealistic idea about the first day of school – an image of a smiling family eating bacon and eggs together as they exchange this year’s goals. Well, I recommend getting over it. You will make mistakes, and perfection is for people who don’t have children and a life.
Allow for Failure
I know you think I am seeking the easy way out, but I’m not. People who don’t take chances don’t learn new things. You want your child to take healthy risks, get up, and start all over. Let them fall flat on their face, and then ask them what they learned. This also means telling them when you make a mistake. “Hey, I was wrong. Who knew I could mess up?”
Crack Your Kid’s Code
When you get to know someone, you know what to expect of them. So, when your outgoing kid gets quiet and your introverted kid gets loud–ask questions. The best way to understand what is going on in your kid’s life is to know them well enough to notice a change.
Unbrand Your Family
Everyone is a brand these days. Disconnecting from social media is a great way to destress and stop judging yourself by someone else’s metrics. Remember, photos are two dimensions, and people are three. Those “likes” can be addictive.
You Can’t Buy Your Way Out
It is tempting to think that you can buy your way out of almost everything–even back-to-school stress. Do you want to get in shape? Hire a trainer. Do you want your kids to be geniuses? Hire a tutor. No matter what you buy, you still have to do the pushups, and your kids still need to study to get the knowledge stuffed into their brains. No matter what you spend on school clothes for your child, it may not guarantee they have a perfect first day.
Habits Take Time
Habits are powerful, but they are built on momentum. Start small and let the accumulation build momentum. Give yourself credit for just making it to school. Tomorrow you can work toward bigger goals like not eating in the car or getting everyone to bed ten minutes earlier than you did last night.
Give Yourself Credit
Yes, I know you haven’t done anything yet, but sometimes just getting out of bed is a victory, and if you knock yourself down, who will be there to help your kids when they get knocked down?
I struggle with transition and change. I like routine; just like a kid, I do best when tucked in bed before 10:00 PM and have healthy snacks to nibble on throughout the day. Aren’t we all just kids inside? Even though they don’t let us bring a little rug to work and take a nap. Darn.
It’s Time to Get Some New Material
Comedians, writers, and parents all need new material. So get out there and gather some stories, jokes, and wisdom to share with your kids. My daughter rolls her eyes when she hears me tell the same old story. We all need new material after a couple of years without much laughter.
Prevention is the Key
Having a more manageable life is mostly about preparation and prevention. We need to prepare in order to prevent the minor disasters that can occur in daily life.
Additional resources for making the back to school transition easier: