It’s their first day of school. They are wearing their brand-new outfits with their oversized backpack filled with the finest school supplies and a healthy lunch.
They are excited and scared at the same time. However, mom and dad are smiling on the outside, but panicking on the inside. Will they make it to school in one piece? Will their teacher be nice? Will they make new friends? Are they going to suffer from separation anxiety?
Then, it’s their first day of high school. They are wearing their brand-new designer outfits with their oversized backpack filled with an expensive laptop and maybe a healthy lunch. They have been dreading this day all summer and not sure how the day will play out.
We have the same fears as they do. Will they be able to find their home room class? Will they get picked on from the older students? Are their teachers going to be nice? How much homework are they going to get?
Then it’s time for post-secondary school. They are probably not wearing a brand new outfit, they are probably not using a new over-sized backpack, and who knows what they have planned for lunch. It is officially out of our hands. We are left to wonder, are they going to manage a much heavier work load? Are they going to make good friends? Will they navigate their way through campus? Will they stay focused and on course?
Regardless if your child is in elementary school, high school or post-secondary school, the same stressors are experienced for parents which can make it difficult to stay focused at work during this transition. Back to school doesn’t have to be full of fear and anxiety. Here are some simple strategies that can support this overwhelming time.
How Employers Can Help
- Consider allowing employees with school-aged children to come in late and/or leave early during the first day(s) of school without much explanation.
- Allow additional phone calls (for a limited time) from home so that parents can rest assured their children are safe until it’s quitting time.
- Plan a Back-To-School/Good Bye Summer pot-luck luncheon for all employees to celebrate the new season and possibly distract worried parents.
- Be supportive during the first few weeks of the school year as some employees may not be as productive as they settle into a new routine.
How Parents Can Help
- Don’t panic and sing the song “Every little thing is going to be alright” by Bob Marley
- Keep the days leading up to the first day of school (including the first day) a positive experience. As soon as parents display anxiety it is quickly mirrored by their children. Turn any anxiousness into excitement.
- Be prepared and plan ahead. Complete all back-to-school shopping far enough in advance so last minute details are not impeding on the success of the first day.
- Involve your children (regardless of age) in the preparation of school tasks such as school lunches, wardrobe planning and even determining a new bedtime. Don’t underestimate the value of independent little ones (or older ones) in your household.
- Set school-year priorities and expectations for extracurricular activities, homework, part-time jobs, free time etc. This could help avoid unfulfilled expectations and therefore, an unhappy household.
Stay focused to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Your new routine is about to commence and your schedule is about to become much more hectic.
As you start to fill in your calendar with work and family priorities, be sure to include some valuable time for yourself.
As we prepare to say good-bye to summer, it’s time to celebrate the birth of a new season with all the great things that it brings.
Lisa Lounsbury is the founder of New Day Wellness and parent to three teenaged children. For more information, visit NewDayWellness.ca.