Having your children spend so much time away from the family during the school year can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be a negative experience. Commit now to instill habits that can help their absences be not only endurable, but enjoyable.
My kids returning to school is always difficult for me. I miss them when they’re gone. I enjoy our time together during the lazy days of summer. Those times of staying up late, taking bike rides or reading books disintegrate and are replaced by schedules, carpools and homework.
However, I have developed some ways of coping with their absence. Instead of being anxious about my treasures leaving the nest, I try to focus instead on making the school year fun and memorable for them. The following are some discoveries I have made that help going back to school easier for our family.
Have a back to school tradition
. My kids know when they return home from their first day of school they will find a dinner plate-sized, homemade cookie waiting for each of them. They eagerly look forward to this day and the treat that follows. Not only is this a fun tradition for them, but spending an hour making giant cookies gives me something to focus on other than their absence.
Other back-to-school traditions could include a special family dinner, outing or pre-school game night. The actual activity isn't important as long as it involves love and family memories.
Alleviate your apprehension by focusing on exciting possibilities
. Instead of moaning about how much I dread having them gone, my children and I focus on the things they will learn and the new friends they will make. We talk about the possibilities of old friends returning and how to make new ones.
By envisioning a positive future and the steps they can take to ensure scholastic and social success, my kids return to school armed with plans to succeed. Also, focusing on the positives helps me remember how important school is for my kids in becoming competent adults.
. Because I miss my children so much, I look for opportunities to be with them during the day by volunteering. Sometimes I’m lucky and my volunteering jobs take me in close proximity with my children. Other times, when I barely see them, I make sure to acknowledge them with a wave or wink. It’s important for my children to know that although I may not be helping them directly, they are still my greatest priorities.
For those unable to volunteer during school hours, there are usually other ways to help. I have corrected papers at home, helped with after school events, and made posters. When I included my children in these efforts, it helped emphasize the importance I placed in their schooling and my desire to be included in their lives.
. I try to let my kids know I’m thinking about them while they are gone. One of the ways I do this is by placing hand-written notes in their lunches. These small missives are sometimes heart-felt and other times, they are attempts at humor. Never lengthy, the notes hopefully remind my children of my love.
We can rarely know how our children will fare each day at school. Finding ways of letting them know we are thinking of them while they are gone can often be the boost they need during difficult days.
Prepare for emergencies
. Make sure your kids know how to behave during emergencies. We talk about scenarios including bullying, natural disasters, illnesses and school shooters. Instead of fearing a potentially scary situation, my children are armed with the knowledge of how to handle such uncertainties.
By going over possible emergencies, not only will our children have more confidence regarding how to handle these situations, but we will as well.
. I’ve noticed when I ask my kids things like, “What happened at school today?” I usually receive short, detail-lacking responses. However, if I start conversations by telling them how my day went, it is easier for them to reciprocate in revealing more about their day at school. Conversing about our time apart helps our relationship grow.
It is important to reconnect when children return home from school. Maintaining this habit can keep lines of communication open for other times when children need to disclose more serious matters.
Seek heavenly guidance
I pray for my children daily during my personal prayers and our family prayers. When my children express difficulties they encounter at school we pray together for heavenly help. During the day, when separated from my children, I can often be found uttering short prayers in their behalf. Not only do my prayers help them, but they comfort me as well.
Praying for our children not only makes them aware of our love, but it reminds them of the higher power they can appeal to during times of need.
The first day of school will never be my favorite day. However, by focusing on making the school year a positive experience for my children, I have in turn helped myself as well.