Here we are in mid-August. The flowers, the temperature, the daylight are changing. My work with families, as an art therapist, indicates that many parents are feeling anxious about what is fast approaching. Whether it is the loss of the lazy days of summer or anticipation of meeting the rigorous demands of a fall schedule, this transition can wreak havoc in families. Parents either plunge into the frenzy of over scheduling activities in an attempt to make the most of the last weeks of summer or they shift into rigorous schedules and routines preparing for the demand of the back to school schedule. Either way stress levels are amped up, disrupting the family dynamic. For this year’s transition season, I’d like to offer the practices of acknowledgment and regulated routines to help ease your family into the new found structure that comes with September.
Take time to Acknowledge
If you have school-aged children, you are aware that back-to-school schedules dominate family plans. As parents we tend to access our life experience and get to work creating a system that will help us to navigate this time efficiently and effectively. Before heading into management mode, take some time to acknowledge with your children what they are thinking and feeling about this time. Taking the time to recognize what is about to happen and what changes will inevitably occur as the days become shorter and demands on time become greater.
Small moments of remembering and talking about what is needed, making lists, and gathering insight can be attended to gradually, giving the demand in small doses to consider and digest. These signals occur now, while summer activity is still happening, buffering the impact of loss and change. Conversations are preparatory and help kids process how they are anticipating the changes to come and helps families strategize about the steps to get there, collectively. Careful with your focus, time and energy so you can to start considering now small shifts that will help welcome the months ahead with readiness rather than dread.
Return to and Reinvent Routines
I regularly remind parents that it takes all of September to create comfortable and successful back-to-school routines. We want to leave time to be assured that we are moving in the right direction towards our goals in small increments. The abrupt assertion of limits provokes dysregulation or resistance to our demands. This can complicate and slow the process of acclimating and returning to what is familiar this time of year.
When we consider for ourselves and our family what changes will be coming, we can begin to prioritize our efforts as we slowly implement the changes. Don’t tackle everything at once and attempt to go from the lazy days of summer to a less flexible schedule all at once. We must prioritize sleep, as we all learn, relate and achieve developmental growth and health with good sleep patterns. If family members are rested it offers a foundation for embracing change more openly. Start slowly and protect the routines that are the highest priority, knowing there will be time to fold in the rest. This is also the perfect time to consider that some of your routines may be outdated and your children may have new ideas. Allow for their input as this will empower your children to reinvent how they want the day to go well.
Anxiety Turns into Possibility
The beauty of acknowledging what is about to happen openly, honestly and inclusively with our children is that we can create an environment for helping them to process their thoughts and feelings and eventually understand the choices they have around their actions. The rituals and routines need practice and can then become established and accessed when needed. If you would like support and to feel more confident that your family will be ready as you prepare, reach out for family consultation at roomtomove.com