While many parents will welcome the start of the school year with open arms, there’s no doubt that rallying the family to switch gears can be challenging. The first week back into the routine of early mornings, get-up-and-go, and watching the clock can be a shock for everyone. Here are our top 5 tips to help you and your littlies ease into the new groove with minimum fuss.
1. Shop, Bake and Make
School lunches are a big job for any parent. Talk to your kids about the new foods they’ve discovered over the holidays, and what they may like to have in their lunch boxes. We’re not suggesting they have six biscuits for lunch, but we all get stuck in a rut and you may be surprised what ideas your kids come up with!
This conversation can help grow understandings of healthy food vs treat foods. They may even like to help you make some food in advance. Think savoury mini-muffins, muesli slice, oaty banana biscuits, meatballs or boiled eggs. If mornings are tight for time, prep lunches as much as you can the night before.
2. Sweet Sleeps
It can be hard to shake the late summer nights that we all end up having, kids included, especially when it’s too hot to sleep! In the days leading up to school starting, make an effort to begin the bedtime routine earlier than normal. Allow for some tossing and turning, an extra couple of books read, another song sung.
It’s better to have more wind down time and the chance of an early night for a brighter start the next day. A cool bath can help ease the heat and mark the shift from day to night when the sky is still blue outside. When we say early nights, this goes for parents too. It really is worth the effort, we all function better when we’re well rested.
3. Preparation Conversation
Some kids will really benefit from talking about what’s coming up for them at school, especially if they’re starting something new, or have a new teacher or classroom. Talking about who will be there, how it might feel, what they’ve enjoyed about school in the past will all be useful.
There is a fine balance however - children are usually in-the-moment and we want to keep them that way! If talking is building anxiety or pressure then ease off and let them bring it up when they’re ready.
4. Planning Peaceful Mornings
There’s nothing like a bit of an incentive for children to get started in the morning. A clear pictorial plan on the fridge can work wonders - draw your child eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth and getting their bag so they know what is expected. Add a star or sticker chart or a promise of their favourite music in the car, after-school activity or working towards a big fun adventure on the weekend. Some might call it bribery, but a little bit of buy-in doesn’t hurt.
5. Easy Does It
Try not to plan any after-school playdates or classes for your tamariki for the first week or two. They’ll be tired from re-engaging their brains, concentrating for extended periods and the massive stimulation of being around so many people again.
If you feel like the kids are into it, take them to the park or the beach to run wild a little when you pick them up. Or go home for some chill time with toys. Whatever you choose, steer clear of any more learning or instruction.
The same goes for you: keep plans simple and create enough space.
For extra support to ease children’s nerves or support good sleep, read more about Kiwiherb Kid’s Calm. But don’t forget about the parents! You can benefit from the calming action of Kiwiherb StressArrest for managing hectic mornings.
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