How to Get Past the Back-to-School Blues
(and keep your sanity!)
Child development experts say that the hardest part of the school year is just before your students go back to school. You want your student to get good grades, of course. But after several months of lounging around and sleeping in until lunchtime, going back to school can be a difficult concept for your student to embrace. But it doesn't have to be hard.
Read on to grab somequick tips on how to get your student to go back to school more prepared and more excited than ever, and how to master the transition back to school (it's not too late!) and... master your own destiny.
Get 'em out of bed with Clocky
Make small changes to your student's routine to ensure a year of good grades.
Depending on the age of your child(ren), you may be hearing complaints about homework, how mean the teachers are, or how it's hard to manage all the new routines this school year.
Let's face it, these are all valid complaints. Nobody likes homework. Teachers are asking our children to stretch their brains and learn new material and behaviors. And moving from class to class, stopping by the locker for the next class's books and getting a drink of water within a two-minute window can be nothing short of an NFL-style touchdown run.
In order to make quality, effective changes that will benefit our children both now and in the long run, we must first understand them as individuals.
Set A Bedtime, and Stick To It
Children need lots of sleep. "But I'm not tired" is what kids say when they feel they're going to miss out on some additional around-the-house fun and games. Reassure them that you're going to bed, too, and that you'll be dreaming of their future with them as you sleep. This not only eases their fears about missing out on something exciting, but it also sets their minds in a new direction and enlists them in dreaming about their growth trajectory. It will also help you direct them later on, as in "I don't remember dreaming that you would play with matches and set the backyard on fire. Let's not do that again." Growing is tough, and rest is repair.
Set this boundary and be firm. I often tell my children, "I'm not mad at you, but I am serious." This lets them know I mean business. Regardless of their age, the simple habit of having a standard bedtime will greatly impact the flow of the entire day, knowing there is a definite 'end' to the day coming soon.
While you sleep your body uses a TON of energy, working furiously to repair cells (tired muscles are actually broken fibers), regulate hormones, and promote digestion so your little firefighters and princesses can grow up all big and awesome.
Studies show that eating a breakfast can improve test scores, help keep a healthy body weight, and improve the ability to focus. Many adults often lean on excessive caffeine and sugary drinks to give us a jolt (or several) throughout our day. Coffee isn't bad for you, and neither is tea. I don't recommend any sugary drinks ever. Do this instead: eat a morning blend of carbs (brain food) and protein. A little fat is OK, but say no to the extra bacon or cheese.
Morning can be an incredible bonding time, too. As parents we owe our children our most precious resource: our time. Dr. Meg Meeker has numerous tips for raising both boys and girls in her two books, Boys Should Be Boys and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. There is a terrific 30-day workbook to go along with the latter, as well.
A little goes a long way, right? At least with certain things, that's true. Like spices.
But in relationships with our children, we have a chance to teach them time management and the habit of future orientation. Brian Tracy defines future orientation as "thinking about the future." Even if your crystal ball is in the shop, you can still fairly accurately predict your daily schedule.
Share the day's events (as necessary, you don't need to let Junior know what a root canal is), and explain that you are looking forward to spending time with your little person again soon and enjoying life together. This will help them feel a sense of comfort because the most powerful person on the planet (that's YOU, moms and dads!) knows what today holds, which is beyond the capabilities of many children, even some teenagers. Looking forward to the future will give them something to look forward to in case they have a rough day at school. At least they know that you still love them.
If your child happens to be in middle school or even high school, you have to take a different approach. Instead of telling them what the day looks like, turn the tables and ask them what today holds for them, as much as they can predict. If you continually provide all the pertinent details without ever expecting them to begin managing some portions of their life, you'll be rewarded with an unwelcome blessing: a grown child who doesn't know how to manage his life, can't set priorities or goals, and lives with you eternally.
Do your future self a favor and start now. And remember: teenage brains are overworked with hormonal and physiological changes, and oftentimes their brain just shuts itself off. They look alert, but there is a glassy sheen to their eyes. This is normal. Don't let the challenges of growing up turn into excuses, however. There will come a day when you want them to move out, and if you help them now, you help them later.
Unlike iPhones, Kindles, and laptop computers, you don't need to be plugged in to operate properly. In fact, you're better off setting off-limits times for your digital devices, even for your older children.
We shut down an hour before bedtime (9pm, in case you're wondering), to allow our brains to unwind and ready themselves for sleeping. So much of our time is spent on digital devices playing games and otherwise consuming information, we need to clear space in our crowded days to allow for what I like to call "self-powered thinking," or time where we cease all forms of consumption and turn our thoughts inward, enhancing creativity and freeing our minds to collect our thoughts.
Try this: once a month, set aside all digital devices and other forms of consumption for an entire day, and spend the time together as a family. You can talk, play games, or go to the park and look for shapes in the clouds. Take time and connect with the most important people in your life. They'll grow up and move out before you can say "I'm almost to the next level!!"
You can certainly expect objections to these new habits you're trying to form for your family, especially if they are in the teenage years. These are normal, but stand firm. Explain politely that you are changing a few small things for everybody's gain, and they are non-negotiable. It gets easier, it really does.
To combat the bedtime objections, we created "Special Moments," where each of us would spend one-on-one with each child before tucking them into bed. It currently looks like this:
8:30 Family Reading Time
9:00 Brush Teeth
9:10 Special Moments
At 9:10 we begin making the rounds, spending a few moments with each child. We'll ask questions like "How was your day?", "What was great/awful/exciting about your day?", or "What are you excited for about tomorrow?" I especially like this last one, because it helps set their minds toward the future. There's nothing more detrimental to forward progress than repeatedly reviewing the day's events, even weeks later.
Once you have these habits mastered, try incorporating other small changes to your routine to improve your family's well-being. Over time, you'll help your children as they begin their own families, and you'll have built a legacy of family together time.
So there you have it. Several tips for helping your little student firefighters and little student princesses grow to achieve their dreams. I hope this helps you gain a sense of control for your family, not only for back to school time for your student but for many years to come.
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