As we approach fall, returning to school may be putting anxiety on our minds. Considering the current state of the pandemic, along with the challenges from remote learning last year, creating a sense of calm and security for our children is a must to ease the transition.
While you may be focusing on preparing your children for starting school, their experience after school at home is crucial to recharge and prepare them to do it all over again the next day.
Using the 5Cs for a Balanced Day that I developed within my Dooley Method, you can make easy updates to your environment and routine to promote more Calm, Cooperation, Creativity, Connection, and feel empowered by making personal Choices.
Provide a welcoming relief when your children return home from a busy day. Aside from creating an orderly space, remove any clutter that distracts you from being patient and present with your children. And add a warm touch with soft music and calming scented candles to give their heightened senses a break.
To help your children further in finding calm, create a cozy nook or seating area to decompress. Place a few pillows and their favorite stuffed animal next to a small bin of books or items for quiet sensory play.
School is all about learning to cooperate. Help your children practice at home by setting up a similar system. Add hooks and baskets for easy access to their backpacks and school supplies. Be encouraging for children to be responsible for keeping their belongings in order.
Set up a cafeteria-style drawer or basket with help-your-self snacks next to a few cups and bowls.
For cooperation as a family, establish a 10-15 minute window after dinner for cleaning up or reset.
After having a structured day, your kids can stretch their imagination muscles by expressing themselves creatively at home. Show off their artistic skills by making personalized placemats for dinner. They can invent new games to play with their siblings or pets. Kids who enjoy food prepping can come up with a new dinner idea. All of these ideas empower and encourage a sense of self-expression and imagination. They are creative ways to be contributing to the family as well. (Notice that none of these ideas require too much setup or clean-up either!)
Children’s control and power bucket need a daily refill. After completing their school work, have them pick something they want to do within a comfortable time limit. Giving them choices for the small stuff will reduce their need for wanting to control the big stuff. Use this block of time for yourself to get some work done. Or, more importantly, self-care.
When children are seen and heard, they feel safely connected to you. Create a ritual by setting aside 15 minutes daily of one-on-one time with each child. Allow them to take the lead on how to spend that block of time with you. Give this time a fun name, let them pick the sound of the timer on your phone, or come up with a secret handshake when the time is up. This time of connection will become an anchor for your children, knowing that no matter how challenging their day was (or yours), they can count on you being there.
Change is never easy. By preparing the environment and incorporating routines that promote connection, you can foster a sense of security that will lighten the back-to-school pressure for the whole family.
I hope these ideas will help you reframe back-to-school, not as a one-day event, instead, a lifestyle that encourages your children to try new things and treat the after-school hours as opportunities to nurture their authentic selves.
For more Back-to-School organizing tips from my fellow professional organizers, use the link at the bottom!