The first day back to school has come and gone. The flurry of preparations has been costly, intense, with sporadic arguments about what your child can buy or wear. But what about you, the parent? Where do you fit in to all of this?
You’ve probably been experiencing an array of reactions and emotions. You might be afraid that your child will repeat a bad year. Maybe you have bullying concerns or educational worries. Evenings become tense with the demands of homework and schedules. The relaxed lack of timetables during the summer has ended and the sense of togetherness has been replaced with sports, eating on the fly, and project deadlines.
On the other hand, many parents feel a sense of relief that school is back and the schedules are actually easier to work with. With work, after school activities, and childcare, the days may actually feel more structured and less crazy. No more rushing to camp or friends’ houses or finding someone to be with your sick child.
Another important part of the equation here is time — or lack of it. When school is back in session, time seems to shrink very quickly. When can you get groceries or find time to cook ahead when you’re dealing with those late afternoons at their athletic games? When are they going to perfect the crock pot lighter plug- in for cars? When can you fold t-shirts so your daughter isn’t running for the bus in full wrinkled regalia? How do you avoid McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken when you work late? Everyone is hungry and grouchy at home. Can you make it to Staples on your lunch break to pick up the materials your child needs for a project?
You get the picture. Let’s work on alternatives.
Space: We all need some space where we can breathe. We need to carve out that time on a daily basis. Walk the dog, have coffee out on the back step, get up early just to watch the birds and sit in the quiet.
Meals: Try to plan meals for the week. Delegate the responsibility for preparing and cleaning up after meals. Remember that sandwiches and soup are a wholesome alternative.
Big Picture: We can get so caught up on the details and deadlines. We can hyper focus on getting the car fixed or making an appointment for the dentist. But if you can “get up on the roof,” as Debbie Pincus suggests in The Calm Parent Program, you can shrink those concerns back down to the size they actually are and get a clearer view of your priorities, and stop putting so much energy into details that really aren’t all that important.
The bottom line is the importance of family. Homework, house cleaning, and shopping can become a driving force which adds additional stress to the family mix. How can you reduce the demands on you, as a parent, and be able to enjoy family time as much as possible? Taking some time to think through these questions and problem solve for your individual situation can make all the difference this school season.