So, it's October now.
Do you feel settled yet in the back to school grind?
Kindergarten parents - I’m specifically sending you all the transition love in this new phase of life.
I remember our Kindergarten days being so inconsistent and so reactive. There were times when Lucas would ask me, "why do we just go to school, come home, eat and go to bed." Then there were days where he NEEDED to be active, but was too exhausted and after was a DISASTER! Nothing was ever consistent and I never knew the "right" thing to do for him or me.
It felt like being back with a newborn and having to figure out what he needed and nobody having the words to be able to communicate with each other.
Honestly, I was a little shocked by just how INTENSE it was.
I remember very quickly realizing that this year was going to be all about slowing down to a HAULT. Doing the bare minimum and just moving through this time of life.
We NEVER did after school activities.
We NEVER had playdates (well, maybe 2)
We ALWAYS had meltdowns on the sidewalk
We ALWAYS finished our day exhausted.
Fast forward a year and first grade is SO different. I learned a LOT as a parent and what it means to be a parent of a school aged kid through our first year of Kindergarten.
I learned how to navigate the school system, interpret my son’s needs within this larger system and how to adjust to do what’s best for our family while having to adhere to a bigger picture.
As always, I learned to chill out EVEN MORE as a parent and was reminded of what’s important and worth my focus. That’s something I am constantly learning in new phases of life.
I’d love to share those with you some KEY CHANGES that helped us along the way - because even though it’s October -
It’s never too late to make the right adjustments for your family and we still have 8 months to go! 🙂
Here are 3 adjustments to help soothe the rest of your school year:
A realistic and simplified morning schedule.
This starts the day off and will carry your child through the day with positive energy. A strong morning routine can look different for everyone, but consistency is KEY.
Once you’ve assessed the situation and come up with some potential solutions, have a conversation with your child about what’s not working. Ask them how they would LIKE to have their day look.
It is SO important that we open up the lines of communication with our kids and let them in on the discussion of making change in your days. Whether that is change in meals, change in schedule ect. TALK about what’s happening, what’s working and what’s not.
Playtime in the morning.
Once kids start school, they often don’t have enough time to just play freely. Play is how our kids learn, process and unwind. By giving them some time in the morning to wake up - they can engage with themselves and begin their day settled.
Some of you might be saying that - “If I let my kid play, he will never want to stop and it will be a mess.”
- I get that and this will work better for some kids than others, but the CONVERSATION around this routine will ensure that this is something you are doing TOGETHER.
- Adding structure to it will be KEY to success.
Make a plan & visuals to aide.
My morning routine with my kids looks like this:
- 1st alarm goes off at 6am. I wake up the kids and let them know it’s time to get up and they have 30min. to play (I go back to bed)
- 2nd alarm goes off at 6:30: This is there 5 minute warning that play is about to stop
- 3rd alarm goes off at 6:35: Time to start getting ready
- Go to our “Are you ready?” chart and start the routine. They have a choice to do the routine in whatever order they choose.
- If there is extra time, they can read or play some more. (be careful of the play some more piece here because that can be ard for kids to pull away from when it’s time to actually leave. (but remember a pllus - their shoes and all are already on.)
Ask yourself: What is my child's temperament?
Is your child an introvert - an extrovert - or a little of both?
This can be really telling aspect of your child’s personality. Recognizing and honoring this part of your child’s personality will allow you to best support and understand them.
What is an introvert?
The definition of an introvert is someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introverts’ brains respond to dopamine differently than extroverts’ brains. In other words, if you’re an introvert, you were likely born that way.
What is an extrovert?
As with Introverts getting “filled up” by getting some alone time, Extroverts get “filled up” and energized by being around others.
If they finish a full day, sometimes the best way for them to ground is by being at a playground with friends. That’s relaxing and calming to them.
What is an introvert/extrovert?
Being introvert or extrovert is always on a scale and people are typically not just 1 or the other. Being an introvert/extrovert could mean that you do your best work with others, but than when you are tapped out, you need to be alone to recharge.
Paying attention to how your child reacts in different situations can give you clues to whether they have introvert or extrovert tendencies. This can help you better asses what they need after a long day at school.
So, what does my child need right after school?
- Down time with minimal stimulation
- Quiet connection with you or another person
- Get out pent up energy from their day
Talk with them and find out!
Ask them what makes them feel calm? What makes them feel recharged? As always - don’t have this conversation in the moment. Have it during bedtime or on a weekend when you are just hanging around the house.
Eat Dinner Earlier.
Majority of kids internal dinner time is often at 4:30-5pm
- Pay attention to when your kids hungriest. When are they eating the most snacks
- Utilize that time to get healthy food into them at that time. Maybe it is a sit down and have dinner or maybe it’s a really healthy schmorgas board (cheese, olive, vegetables, grains)
- You can still have your sit down dinner at 6:30 if that is what works with your families schedule, but the pressure is off because you know they’ve eaten something healthy already.
This early fuel will give them the energy and ability to make it through the rest of the day and minimize the big feelings and tantrums.
Reminder: Don't forget to play with your kids!
Our kids connect with us THROUGH play. Making 10 MINUTES of focused time to play together can make a huge difference in your after school. Set a timer - focus on play - move through the rest of the afternoon.
At the end of the day, everyone’s family works differently, but the more we can slow down and prioritize deep connection within our busy lives - the stronger, more grounded & capable we AND OUR CHILDREN will be.