by Melanie VanderPol Bailey
As summer comes to a close, many families are beginning the re-entry process that comes with a new school year. The first few weeks can be challenging, so remember to leave room for error and grace for when things don’t go as intended. Though different ages have different demands, there are some simple ways for a family to adjust to the new school year.
Probably the most important (and often the most difficult) change for families is to get back into a consistent, regular evening routine. With busy work schedules and the responsibilities of farm life, getting everyone home with dinner on the table at a decent time can be tricky. Family gathering at the table provides physical and emotional nourishment, and making this a priority has huge value. This is a natural time for families to talk about the highs and lows of the day. It may also be good to talk to your younger ones about what they are eating away from home. Children often run out of time during lunch and may not always be eating what you are sending or what is offered through school.
Monitoring screen time in all of its many forms can be a difficult, but positive adjustment. As parents we do better when we model this for our children. Setting devices aside sends a big message on who is most important. Many teenagers (and their parents) feel pressure to respond immediately to a message. Talk with your children about how you balance your response to instant communication.
Early bedtime can also be a challenge. It is recommended that all ages of children get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night for healthy brain development. There are many ways to promote healthy sleep and bedtime routines. When possible, keeping a consistent bedtime is best for all ages. Expect a few bumps in the road of routine these next few weeks. If you find big challenges and stressors continue for you or your child, additional help may be beneficial.
Sioux Falls Psychological Services serves adults, couples, children, and families. We can be reached at 605-334-2696. We're here to help.