How to Psyche Your Kids Up For the First Day Back
A new school year is a time of guarded optimism and nervous excitement. By September most kids are ready to head back to the classroom. Still, the transition from the lazy days of summer to the rigorous routine of fall can be tough. No more going to bed late, sleeping in every morning or playing outside until dark.
Now it’s time to adhere to a stricter time schedule and adapt to a new teacher and a host of other academic challenges. For some students, September also means starting all over in a different school where everything from the teacher right down to his classmates is new.
Whether your child is returning to a familiar school or starting in a new one, this kind of transition can bring on stress and cause him to resist necessary adjustments. As adults, we aren’t prone to feeling uncomfortable or anxious when facing a new situation. Just imagine how overwhelmed your child must feel when faced with the annual ‘unknown’ ritual of new teachers, classmates, and more challenging homework.
To help our children we must first learn to view the situation from their perspective. Explain to young children how their daily routines will change. Describe in detail what a typical day will be like. You might also want to discuss how your child’s new school environment will differ from last year.
Help your child adapt by making preparations in advance, clearly explain the changes that are about to take place and take the time to listen if doubts or fears develop.
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, making smooth transitions between home and school can help children feel good about themselves. And, we all know how important encouraging self-esteem in youth is. Helping children adapt to new situations can also ease parents’ minds and give them a chance to become more involved in their children’s education.
Following are some back to school tips for making the transition between summer and school easier.
Gear up for the day-to-day routine of school by adding structure to your child’s schedule in the last weeks of August. Start the day with writing in a journal or doing a drawing exercise followed by active play. Finish up with some quiet time.
Stroke your child’s enthusiasm
Ease your child’s back to school jitters with lots of positive messages, like “I hear Mrs. Alexander is a terrific teacher,” or “This is the year you finally get to go to the planetarium”.
Are vaccinations, dental treatments and eye exams up to date? Pulling kids out of class when the school year is gearing up is disruptive. Try to schedule any check-ups before school starts.
Phase in an earlier bedtime
It may still be light outside but the clock reads 8 p.m. your child’s usual weekday bedtime. If you hope to have him well rested come the first week of school, its wise to start phasing in an earlier bedtime the last week of August. Kids’ usually require about 10 hours of shut-eye a night and it’s a known fact that sleep deprivation wrecks concentration.
Start off a few days earlier by revising his after dinner routine. Move away from evenings spent outdoors to more relaxed indoor activities. Slower paced family activities like reading together or playing board games is a great start. Gradually pull back the turn-in time.
For instance, if your goal is lights out at 8 p.m. set bedtime for 9 p.m. three days before school starts, for 8:30 p.m. the following night, and for 8 p.m. back-to-school eve. Or, try the reverse (or a combination of both) and have your kids set their alarms for earlier wake-ups the last few days of summer.
Celebrating the first day back is also a great way to get the school year off to the best possible start. Arrange to go to work late or take the day off. Bring out your camera and put a special note in your child’s backpack. Close out the day by going out for dinner or ice cream.
Would you say you're happy? In other words, are you living the life that you want to live?
Many of us are so caught up in the day-to-day that we're not living with intent and therefore are not truly happy. Instead, we are caught up with the busyness that is typical of living in today's world.
Instead of living the life that's important to us, we add more things to our 'To Do' lists on a daily basis.
Stop for a moment, take a breath, pause, and reflect on whether the way you're living your everyday, is in line with the life you want to be living. Take an honest look at what needs to change and what behaviours you need to stop before they become lifelong habits.
Below are some of the habits I found I needed to break in order to be more in the moment and live the life I want to live. You may also see yourself in these habits.
Reduce the frequency you check your phone
Was I afraid of missing something? I used to check my phone multiple times a day until I realized that I was exchanging valuable time for something that could wait. Responding to every ring, chime, and tweet as it sounds is a distraction we don't need. Instead enjoy the present moment and put boundaries on the frequency you check your phone.
Take back your power of choice
As I mentioned previously, I didn't want to miss out. Do you fear missing out? As a result, I was a 'yes' person. I said 'yes' far more often than I ever said 'no'.
It was only when I was able to step back and consider the life that I wanted to lead did I realize there was great value in the word 'no'.
By saying 'no', I gained control over what was important to me. By no longer letting others make that choice for me, I climbed back in the driver's seat and was steering my own life, and the direction I wanted it to go.
Keep your priorities in check
Granted, there can be a certain thrill and energy to being busy. It can make us feel important because we have a lot on the go but we can also sacrifice a lot.
If we're too busy for the things that are important to us then we're missing out on the happiness that could be in our lives.
For instance, if you're too busy working and making money for your family to do something special with them down the road, then you're missing out on living in the here and now with people that matter most to you.
Be proactive rather than reactive
Do you find you're constantly playing catch-up? The busier we get, the more complicated our lives become and the less time we have to plan and be proactive.
Consider clearing in your mind and your schedule from time to time so you can reflect on what needs your attention now and in the short-term. The key to a peaceful consistency in your life is to take action on things that need your attention in the present and not wait until things blow up, leaving you no recourse but to react.
Practice gratitude not comparisons
Busyness breeds comparison. Do you ever think you're the only one that's busy? Life can be busy, if you let it consume you with wants. Comparing yourself to other people who are busier or who are less busy than you, is a waste of both your time and energy.
Instead, live your life with intent. Learn to be satisfied with what you have and in so doing, focus on who is important to you and all the good that you have in your life.
Less can definitely be more. Striving for material items and electronic connections over the present moment never truly makes anyone happy.
Having said that, also don't be green with envy of others instead be gracious and full of gratitude for all that you have in your life.
Happiness truly does come from within and from finding your own intentional path in which to follow.
When it comes to hosting guests at the cottage, a little planning, and discussion, goes a long way.
When you extend an invite to the cottage, consider addressing a few key points. By having an advance discussion about expectations, you make getting together more enjoyable for yourself and ultimately, your guests, as they get to spend more time with you since you aren’t busy catering to their every need.
A wise host is one who outlines the length of stay, suggests sharing meals and asks their guests to bring their own bedding, among other things.
While a weekend away at your cottage may seem like the ideal bed-and-breakfast getaway for your guests, if you don’t set some guidelines, you’ll run yourself ragged and find entertaining more of a chore than a pleasure.
Being specific about the length of stay helps to ensure your guests don’t over stay their welcome. While it may seem a little bold to issue a departure time with your invite, it does give you and your guests a time frame to work within. It also ensures you don’t end up staying longer at the cottage than you wanted in order to clean up.
By suggesting you share the meals, it also encourages sharing the clean-up. When we have another family visiting for the weekend, we divide the meals with each family being responsible for an equal amount...and bringing all the necessary ingredients.
Each family is also responsible for preparing and making the meals they bring as well as the clean-up, unless you switch it up and the family who isn’t cooking is responsible for the clean-up. Either way works.
Asking guests to bring their own bedding saves on putting fresh linens on the beds and doing extra laundry when they leave.
Outlining extra items your guests should bring is also wise. I’ve learned from experience just how quick you can go through cans of bug spray, bottles of sunscreen, and every beach and bath towel in the cottage.
Also mention cottage specific gear like lifejackets and good footwear as well as flashlights for guests leaving after dark.
Speaking of leaving after dark, a responsible host never sends impaired guests on their way. Typically when we invite guests to come for the day, we encourage them to arrive for either lunch or just after and stay for dinner. We make sure there is lots of food on hand as well as a generous supply of non-alcoholic beverages.
That said, we try to err on the side of caution and encourage intoxicated and/or tired guests to spend the night. We always have a tent, an inflatable mattress, extra sleeping bags, pillows and new toothbrushes on hand. In our case, most of our friends have a 1 1/2 hour drive back to Peterborough down a long and windy road, so we want to do what we can to ensure their safe return home.
Large scale entertaining is also made easier when you have a variety of simple menu ideas in mind. The following are some of my favorite meals when hosting at the cottage.
For a breakfast that is sure to impress, you can’t beat Eggs Benedict made in a muffin pan.
Line each section of the pan with a slice of ham, crack an egg in each and bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the desired softness of your eggs).
When the eggs are just about ready, slice and toast (on broil/grill) six English muffins on a baking sheet. Move the muffin pan to the bottom rack while doing this to allow the eggs to finish cooking.
Make up a package of Hollandaise sauce (Knorr or McCormick) using a large measuring cup (two or four cups) and microwave.
Assemble and serve with slices of tomatoes and avocado, baked tomatoes and sautéed zucchini, asparagus and/or garnish the plate with fresh fruit.
Other quick and easy breakfast ideas for a crowd include pancakes and sausages or French toast and bacon cooked on a non-stick grill pan, or sausages/bacon cooked in a frying pan on a side burner if you have one.
Peameal bacon on a bun served with tomato and lettuce is another good breakfast idea that can easily be made on the barbecue.
If the morning weather isn’t forecast to be good, an overnight breakfast casserole is a great idea.
My favorite cottage lunch idea is to top mixed greens with seasonal fruit and one of the many fruit vinegars made by Kawartha Country Wines.
My favorite salads feature grilled chicken or lean deli chicken or turkey. I include combinations of berries, peaches, pears, or nectarines as well as dried fruits like cranberries or cherries that also lend themselves well to goat cheese, brie, camembert, blue cheese and feta.
In addition to a few slices of purple onion, I top my summer salads with either toasted walnuts or pecans, or a combination of roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
The salads are dressed with my selected fruit vinegar to which I add a little olive oil to taste.
The wine vinegars crafted with fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice are also delicious on ice cream, strong cheese and baked brie to name but a few other uses.
Simple evening meal ideas include chicken/grilled veggie kabobs served alongside rice and barbecue chicken, ribs or pulled pork paired with sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo, and a side of homemade coleslaw.
Even when you plan ahead for weekend guests, things are bound to be forgotten or you simply go through supplies quicker than expected. You’re wise to make note of the operating hours of local grocery, drug and convenient stores in advance of entertaining.
There you have it. Some of my favorite cottage entertaining tips. I hope you find these suggestions helpful in planning your next weekend visit with family and/or friends.