Whether you are thrilled or a little wistful, the end of summer vacation is upon us. Transitioning from summer’s more relaxed schedules and expectations isn’t easy—for us or them.  I’m sending you good thoughts for peaceful adjustment, along with 3 simple tips to make back to school smoother this year.

  1. Know: It’s stressful for them.  Especially for your introverts, your neuroatypical kids, your anxious kids… school has often been a place that was challenging (or worse) and they haven’t forgotten that.  They are worried if their teachers will be “nice.”  They are worried whether they’ll have anyone to sit with at lunch.  They are worried that they won’t be “good enough” or “smart enough.”  That’s a lot of emotional stress to hold. So, know that your kids are laboring under some invisible burdens for the next few weeks.
  2. Do: less. If there’s something you can opt for that will make your life or your family’s life easier in the next few weeks, choose it!  Get the takeout, don’t schedule extra stuff for a while, hold off on adopting that puppy for a bit, and just generally embrace shortcuts where you can.
  3. Say: Remind your kid that school is starting.  Some kids are looking forward to seeing friends and resuming activities again, which might make for a nice conversation for you both.  But some kids have been avoiding thinking about school’s return, and being reminded will actually be upsetting for them.  Even if it is, it’s good to get it on their radar, before they actually have to go/do/perform/manage.  Perhaps you’ll be able to have a good, connected conversation about their feelings about resuming school–which is better in the long run than avoiding the topic. (And if you do– remember to hold the bowl!)

Finally, remember that first weekend after school starts back up is kind of a train wreck for a child’s self-regulation.  They’ll be tired, and maybe fried, so keep it simple, and loving, and make sure everybody gets some sleep!