There may be resistance, the stamping of feet, cries of “but I don’t wanna” and for our older kids, endless moaning about how school infringes on their democratic right to be a unique and individual personality, but one thing is for certain, they are going back to school.

No longer able to sleep in and stay up late there will be complaints, there may even be tears and that goes for parents, teachers and our kids alike. As the school holidays draw to a close it is time to start winding them in and for all to prepare for the back to school transition.

Below are some strategies that will help you all to prepare for this transition and minimise any stress and anxiety associated with it. There is no “one size fits all” or magic trick that will work for each and every individual or family however, the strategies listed below have been proven to work both in isolation and combination for many of my clients and for my own family. Most of these strategies can also be used for our younger kids starting primary school, just adapt to suit.

  • Ensure all homework has been completed.  Yes, the older kids and teens will have had homework or books to read that they may not have told you about so now is the time to check.
  • Slowly bring the bedtime hour back.  If you have been letting your kids stay up later over the holidays bring their bedtime back slowly.  Start about 5 days before the return of school and just bring their bedtime back by 15-20 minutes earlier each night and their waking time by the same amount of time each morning until they are back to their normal school time sleep schedule.
  • Bring back their bedtime routine (or start one).  Let’s face it, a lot of routines go out the window over school holidays, it is part of the whole holiday experience and bringing those routines back can be difficult.  Start with the bedtime routine or if you have never had one, think about starting one. Kids thrive and suffer a lot less stress and anxiety when they can predict what is about to happen.  Develop a routine or routines for different nights of the week and then stick to it/them.
  • Reduce screen time especially at night.  It is probable to assume that restrictions around screen time have been relaxed over the holidays.  Studies suggest that screen time be restricted to 1-2 hours before bedtime as the light emissions from electronic devices can suppress the release of the hormone melatonin, which is important for regulating our sleep-wake cycle.  Something to consider when constructing your bedtime routine.
  • Don’t leave everything to the last minute! Clean out that school bag (eek!) Try to have the school bag packed and uniform washed and ready to go a couple of days in advance.  If your child has a study area or desk, make sure this is clean and tidy and ready to go also.  (Bonus if you can get them to clean their rooms!) Have the school lunch and snack ingredients on hand and ready to go.  Watching you rush around and listening to you stress the day before will not ensure a calm transition to school for anyone.
  • If your child or teen is stressed about returning to or starting school, try Emergency Essence from Australian Bush Flower Essences.  This essence is 100% natural and can be taken alongside any other medication. It is excellent for any emotional upset and has a calming effect during a crisis.  Have your child start taking this 2-3 days before school starts and then for as long as needed during the transition period.  (That goes for Mum to tongue-out ) Available to purchase from me or from any good Health Food Shop.
  • If you have been able to implement the above strategies you will have time for one last stress-free fling before school returns.  Plan a family fun day out 1-2 days prior to the start of school without having to stress about anything school related.  Start the school year off on a positive note feeling relaxed, connected and ready. Bring it on!

For some of you these strategies may seem totally unattainable and to others, they may seem rather simple, just take note of what you think will work for you and your family and give it a try.

Kim X

© copyright. May not be reproduced without acknowledgement to the author. Written by Kim Norton 16th January 2018.

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