So here we are, a week in to term 1 of the Victorian school year. If, like me, you have a kiddo starting Prep, you may have turned to the booze, retail therapy, or – my new-found friend, Bach Rescue Remedy (side note – that stuff is great and also got me through end of year festivities last year very calmly!). Personally, I found day two of the school year the hardest, and had to work hard to avoid ending up a mess stay positive without my little partner in crime by my side for the day. But we’ve made it through week one. What’s been working for you to keep the household sane? Here are 5 quick tips that have worked for us, and for some of the patients that have come through our practice with newbies starting school this year:
- Reduce demands! This means, pick your battles. Is now really the time to be targeting bed-making skills when it’s never been addressed before? Right now, we want to get through the day and reserve some energy for tomorrow. In my house, my little preppie is coming home from school and playing until dinner is served up under a silver cloche by the butler. Just joking. Well, kind of. It’s served up on melamine by me, and sometimes I feel like the butler. Or the maid. But you get the point, don’t introduce a chore reward chart now if it’s not something you’ve done consistently in the past. It’s too much a little to handle.
- UNDER-schedule. Give extracurricular activities a miss for term 1 at least, if you can. Or minimise attendance, or reduce the regular amount of activities. We want our kiddos to have down time.
- Pack a lunch they will eat. Not the best time to introduce Michael Mosely’s Gut Health diet to your unsuspecting child who has eaten a white bread vegemite sandwich for the past 2 years. In many cases, the kids will have less time and less supervision to eat than in kinder. This means, their motivation is going to win out here. So when the choice is between playing on the monkey bars, or eating a dried up piece of gluten free date loaf, I know what my kiddo would be choosing! And it aint the food! Do try to pack high protein bits and pieces to keep your child going (there are heaps of blogs and Instagram posts for lunchbox inspo!)
- Develop a consistent routine – in our house its get up, have breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, hair done – then the TV can go on if it must. Keeping it consistent every day (including non school days) makes it more predictable for kids and provides some security.
- Arrive on time. Full disclosure here – I got my daughter to school a couple of minutes late on day 3! Epic fail! Luckily she coped okay, but it could have gone either way. We know it is much less disruptive for our littlies when we get them to school on time, so they have an opportunity to settle in before the bell rings. This way they start their day more relaxed and with a brain that is consequently more receptive to learning.
Lets see how we go for week two! Good luck guys!
Amanda Abel is a paediatric psychologist, mum and founder of Northern Centre for Child Development – a paediatric centre in Preston. Follow us on facebook and Instagram @amanda.j.abel