How appropriate for the first day of school to be right at the time of Rosh Hashanah. This is our Jewish New Year. A new school year is ahead for all our kids. It feels like a wonderful fresh beginning for everyone. I have never felt the school excitement that I feel today as I sent all three of my children off to school. I think it is Max starting high school. He is so thrilled to be done with middle school and he is excited for this new adventure. I remember high school so well. It was a special time in my life. I hope it is for Max too. I can’t wait to hear about their first days. Max started 9th grade, Ella started 7th grade and Lillie started 4th grade. This is our last year of Elementary school. You may think that I am sad about that, but it’s been a long run of Elementary school. I am ready for new things ahead. I am sure I will be balling on her last day, but for now I am okay.
I was just scrolling through Facebook loving all the back to school pictures. I know that a lot of parents were so excited to send their kids back to school. I also saw a lot of nervousness among the moms knowing that we are sending them into a germ pool with so many people. The most important thing that I can write today to help set your children up for success is to tell you that your children will pick up on all your fears and anxieties. The best line that I ever heard from a school social worker is that anxious parents have anxious kids. That woke me up in my moment of anxiety and I knew right then that I wanted to do better for my kids. What does that look like?
- I am capable.
- I am smart.
- I can handle this.
- I’m excited to meet my teachers.
- I’m excited to see my friends.
- I’m excited to make new friends.
- It’s going to be a great year.
She laughed at me, and we giggled away as I put her to bed. It’s natural for our children to have worries. Who will I sit with at lunch? How will get I get to all my classes on time? Will my locker cooperate? We did walk through all the schools ahead of time to show them where all their classes are. We did practice with lockers. I reminded Ella that the teachers will be patient. Some of these kids haven’t even been to school in a year and a half. It is a new beginning, and the teachers and staff all know that the students have a lot to readjust to. They will adjust. They will learn where all their classrooms are. They will figure out their locker. They will even figure out the best times to go to their lockers. I have faith in our kids. I know that they can do it. If we believe in them and they know that we think they can do it, that will help them believe in themselves. We can help to set our kids up for a successful year:
- Believe in our children. Have faith in them. Know that they are capable so that they learn to believe that too. Tell them that they can do it. Tell them that they can handle it.
- Teach them about self talk. Start telling them what you are thinking. I am nervous about remembering everything I have to do for the first PTA meeting. I will make lists. I will get it all done. I am capable and I can handle this. Talking out loud and telling them what you are thinking and how you are handling it can teach them how to do that too.
- Help them figure out the best coping skills for them. Ella and I talk about deep breathing. She needs alone time to decompress. Max loves to game. Lillie loves to dance. I love to write. What works for your child to help them calm down. Do they need a journal to jot things down in at school? Do they need a worry stone to rub in their pocket? Don’t hesitate to hook them up with an adult at school. There are social workers at most schools.
- Go over their worries with them. Don’t try to guess. Ask questions to your children. As they tell you their worries, you can help them learn to problem solve. What do you think you can do about that? How can you solve that? If they need you – give them some options that they can choose from. They need to learn to problem solve on their own but giving them suggestions is a great way to start to teach them. Max and I discussed where to put his soccer stuff for after school. If it doesn’t fit in his locker – he will ask a teacher to put it in their classroom. We got that suggestion from a friend with an older child in high school.
- Talk to friends with older kids! They have already been through it. My friend told me yesterday where to drop off Max and where he can put his soccer stuff. I don’t have time to bring him his soccer stuff, so we needed to figure this out. He also had an older student show him around school. Parents with older kids are an awesome resource to have!! Ask questions.
- Taking it day by day! If we look at the month of September, we will go sit in the corner and cry. At least I will. If it take it day by day and plan it out with my family then it will be less overwhelming and will feel more manageable. I do need to look ahead to see what taxi services I need help with for my children. That brings me to…
- Use your village! It takes a village to raise our children. This is the honest truth. We can’t do it alone. My husband, my parents and my friends all help me get three kids where they need to be! I also need to talk to my village. Talking to people is one of the greatest ways that I cope with life.
- Prioritize! This is one of the best lessons that I learned this year on my podcast. When I interviewed Jennifer Blossom, she told me that moms are overwhelmed because they think everything is the same priority! Boom! Light bulb moment for me! Everything is not the same priority. What has to get done today? What can wait for tomorrow? This is a great lesson for us to teach to our children.
- Take care of yourself and remember to teach this to your children too. If they see wonder woman working 24 hours a day, then they are going to think that is what they have to do too. They need to see you pace yourself and take care of yourself. They need to see you say no to things.
I can’t promise you that your kids will be able to attend school every day all year. What I can promise you is that you can handle what comes your way. If we have learned anything over the last year and a half, we have learned that we need to be flexible. I have completely adjusted my expectations. I have learned that attending school in person is not a given. I have learned that my family will get through things together. I continue to learn to try to be the best example for my kids that I can be. I stumble and I fall. I screw up. I get back up and I try again. My family deserves that, and I deserve that.
I sincerely want to wish all of children a healthy, happy and successful school year ahead. I hope it goes as smoothly as possible for everyone. I want you all to know that you are not alone. We are in this parenting world together. Happy first day of school to a lot of you! Happy beginning of school. It’s a new fresh beginning and I hope it’s a good one!
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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