Tension At Home When School Starts
And just like that we’re starting our third week of school and the tension of routines has found its way back to our house. The start of anything new can bring so many emotions to my already emotion-ridden children. A new school year, filled with structure and routine, has the potential to lead to daily crying fits and me crawling in my bed at 7pm and pulling the covers over my head whispering, “I’m done.”
Of the four humans in our house, two have ADHD and three have anxiety, so you can probably guess that getting everyone on the same page and doing anything on-time can be challenging for us. I thought I’d share with you a couple of the things we’re anxious about and some plans I have in place to make it through these transitions and lighten the mood in our house, specifically around our mornings and afternoons.
We aren’t good at them. For some reason my girls don’t understand the concept of 1) waking up and 2) getting dressed and admittedly, I’d rather sit on the couch and have two cups of coffee than be required to do anything productive right after I wake up. Last school year I laminated colorful checklists and tried a reward system. If they checked off their list each morning they got a marble in a tiny jar. When the tiny jar was full they got either money or a trip to Chuck E Cheese. That’s how bad our morning routine is – I was willing to go to Chuck E Cheese if they could do SEVEN things in a row. But they lost interest and it just became a source of contention.
My plan this school year: I’ve decided have to wake up and be completely ready before them so that I can help them get ready. I’m not looking forward to it, but I also want them to feel peace in our house before going to school.
3 week update: It’s working. I dread my alarm going off at 6am but being present to help them through the mundane processes, instead of the constant redirect and frustration, helps me feel better as a mother and sometimes that’s the only win we need - to feel like we’re doing a decent job.
School Pick-Up and Homework
We made the decision to send our girls to different schools this year which means both my husband and I will be doing morning drop off. And because both schools have 3pm dismissal, one daughter will need to stay in after-care until I can get to her.
My plan: Pick up my older daughter first and take her to the library to do homework before picking up my younger daughter. I’m hopeful this will create a more peaceful evening at home together. Both of my girls have uniquely wired brains and the older one struggles with distractions. She’s who you want with you on a nature hike – she notices everything! – but doing homework can be painful.
3 week update: We haven’t been to the library yet. Oops. Luckily she’s at a school that only gives one page of math homework per night and her emotions have dictated that she go home and breathe before launching into more work. She has literally said every day at pick up, “I just want to go home.” Like most of our kiddos at the beginning of the school year, she’s exhausted. I’m trying to recognize her needs and give her allocated rest time. It looks something like this, “let’s get home and put on comfy clothes, get a snack and in 30 minutes we’ll start your homework.” I then set a timer on our microwave. TV and ipad are a reward once homework is finished. It’s not always easy to get her back in the game when the timer goes off, but hopefully she sees that I respect her. Also, I don’t do her homework with her. I’m nearby if she has a question or wants me to read something to her, but I’m not concerned with her getting the answers right. I’m most concerned that she completes a task independently, regardless of the results. I’m hopeful we’ll make it to the library soon!
So there you have it. Somethings have worked as planned for us (thus far) and some haven’t. And doesn’t that sum up life? I would love to hear what’s working in your house and where things might be topsy turvy in the mornings and afternoons. I feel strongly that we parents need to be honest with each other about our struggles and successes so that we can best support each other. I also hope by sharing how much I don’t have things figured out, you will share what works best for you - because that might be exactly what someone else needs to hear.
-Elizabeth Luedemann, co-founder SGT
Let us know your school routine experiences in the comments below!