Are you getting ready?
Or are you hitting the snooze button?
I know it’s tempting. I know you want to avoid all the uncomfortable feelings that come with going back to school. If you’re avoidant and resisting, children will mirror that back to you.
I get it, but I know that if I keep hitting snooze, I’m just putting off the inevitable and what follows will just be an almighty sh1t storm of grumpiness, to-do lists and stress.
What we resist persists!
I’m a huge fan of preventative maintenance and not leaving it until things get really bad. What about you?
Especially as lockdown can trick us into feeling like we’ve had an extra-long holiday this year, and there is the added fear of uncertainty, the risk of illness, the lost time with friends and the push by the system to play ‘catch up’. Whilst living through trauma and being isolated from our usual routine and loved ones, added pressure can make stress levels toxic.
I talked about this in Episode #43 – The One with the Coronavirus. Feeling overwhelmed and powerless is an appropriate response to the world being upside down and full of uncertainty. The need to feel safe and secure is bigger than ever.
People with anxiety need more time to adjust to change
I need time to transition from one thing to another. The adjustment doesn’t come naturally for me. It feels uncomfortable and awkward. Unfamiliar and unknown.
Being prepared helps me feel less anxious
So, for those of us who find transitions hard (and I know lots of my clients do), here are a few things on Smiley’s Back to School Checklist to help you.
1. Accept that CHANGE is coming and allow it to happen
With that can come a whole load of big emotions which can feel like swimming in treacle but the more you allow and accept them, the quicker they dissolve. If you shut down or try to ‘manage‘ them on behalf of your child, they will come out sideways.
Discover the importance of being connected to your feelings. You don’t want your child growing up not knowing how to tune into themselves. They will be forever looking to you (or somebody else to save them).
2. Say GOODBYE & acknowledge endings
Some of us (me!) find goodbyes hard. I know a family who is creating a scrapbook of old holiday snaps as a way to close that chapter before they move onto the next one. Some people have created Lockdown Time Capsules. We need to energetically let go with a ritual to create space for the new.
Letting go is hard when you’re anxious because the fear of the unknown requires you to trust yourself and your ability to handle anything that comes your way. This is why I created the Truly Madly Smiley to teach emotional mastery and resiliency – these are essential and solid building blocks for winning at life.
it’s also worth noting that anxiety is a sign that children are holding onto and not processing their feelings properly. This can be because emotional regulation is not being role modelled to them, it can because they don’t feel safe to be emotionally vulnerable or it can be because their primary care giver is not attuned to their emotional needs and they are overwhelmed and scared of their own feelings. There are other reasons why, but these are the main ones that I see often.
Truly Madly Smiley will help with that. With consistent listening over time, they will start to relax and let go.
3. Prepare EARLY and allow yourselves TIME
Is it worth snoozing on your alarm clock? 5 minutes of extra sleep for a day of playing catch up. Go to bed earlier so you can be an early bird on the front foot with your day. Rushing creates more anxiety for fearful children. They are going to be fearful given the global pandemic. It also helps to bring bedtime forward by 10 minutes every night for a week and help their body clocks adjust.
4. Establish ROUTINES in advance
Your routines will have slipped over the break. Maybe boundaries have slipped too? Screens, sugar. It’s all going to be a bit of a shock to the system so gradually allow yourself time to ease back in. Listen to Episode 47 – The One with the Magical Morning Routine. You can do it differently this time.
5. Create Emotionally Safe Spaces
They need to feel safe and secure. I have a quick and easy way for you to up the connection in the run-up to school. Teachers and educators must be mindful of how trauma impacts learning and how to prioritise emotional safety at this time.
6. Can you dig deep and have EMPATHY for your child?
Empathy is the most powerful and transformational part of your toolkit. It enables you to meet your child in the place where they are. Park our stuff. We don’t want children stuffing down their feelings to regulate our emotions because that is unhealthy.
If a child’s response triggers strong emotions in you, please speak to somebody about this. It’s very likely they are pushing on an old wound of yours that requires professional attention.
7. Dust off those Smiley Thought Cards and start using them again.
8. Mentally Prepare (GROWTH MINDSET)
Save time with these handy Truly Madly Smiley Weekly Listening Plans. Each episode is a bite-sized, child-friendly download that takes care of your social and emotional learning. Pick a weekly plan to make the most of your listening time and get to the heart of the matter.
9. Focus on the FUN stuff
Not all of school life is boring or tricky but if your child has negative associations with school or has had a tough time of it at school, finding the ‘Oooh in the Poo’ is a little bit harder. Things I loved about returning to school were shoe shopping (naturally!), stationery (have you checked out The Works and Kiki K for some quirky bargains).
10. Learn to CHILLAX
Listen to my Relaxation Pack every night for a week before school. It builds confidence, dissolves anxiety and helps children refocus their attention on the good in their world. A relaxed brain that is worry-free will find it easier to fall asleep and be ready to learn the next morning.
Don’t put it off.
Get ready while you still have time with my Back to School Confidence learning pack. This fab and creative learning pack comes with videos, an activity book and helpful checklists so you can get organised for returning to school. It tackles anything school related – worries, friendships, teachers, exams, homework and leaving the house.