Happy Wednesday families,
For many of you, another spring break has come and gone about as quickly as snowbirds flock back North once the summer heat returns in South Florida.
Your family may be experiencing some post break blues, and getting back into the school and work routine can be challenging for you and your tween or teen. The good news is there are some simple steps to make this process less painful all while encouraging your child’s development in skills like personal responsibility, consistency, and healthy thinking patterns.
1. Encourage time for reflection
The eb and flow of life is something that your children are learning to become familiar with and understand during their growing years. During the first week back to school, take time to sit down and reflect with your children on their feelings and thoughts regarding their break and stepping forward into finishing the school year. You can try this by playing the “roses and thorns” game in the car ride to or from school, or during dinner time this week. Ask each member of your family to reflect on the highs (roses) and lows (thorns) over their break. You may be surprised that some of your child’s most memorable moments were simply eating breakfast with you, or laughing at a funny video on YouTube. This also sends the message to your child that their input matters, and they are being heard. Win win!
2. Slowly adjust back into routine
Even for parents, it’s hard to keep the school, work, and home, life running like a well oiled machine. For teens and tweens, sticking to a consistent schedule can be a very difficult yet effective task to build responsible and healthy patterns. Be aware that changes in schedules can increase anxiety in your children. Although they may not admit it, youth THRIVE on structured schedules. In their day to day lives in school, every second is structured from arrival to dismissal. Consistency in your routine will help your child have a smooth transition back to their schedule. This week put some extra attention on those little details in routine, your child will notice and will model your behavior of slipping back into your schedule.
3. Stay Future Oriented
In case your counting it won’t be too long before summer vacation is here and schedules will yet be changing again. (70 days if your curious). Post vacation blues can produce more intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of future thinking for you and your children. It can be helpful to have a goal or event to look forward to after a major shift in routine. Sit down this week with your child to discuss something coming up for your family in the future such as their school spelling bee, chess club competition, or Easter service participation. Encourage them to look forward to this event and prevent them from maintaining a “stuck” mindset. Children learn that everything is temporary, the good and bad times will come and go. How you as a parent model this transition is imperative in your child’s understanding of how to navigate inevitable changes in schedule and routine.
No matter what your feelings about going back to the grind, remember that your children are learning by watching and looking up to how you handle change! Have a wonderful week families!
Michelle Smith MS, RMHCI