Back to school again – already…?  As every year, it seems that the summer has just flown by!

And every year, this is a time of conflicting emotions. It is a new beginning, a new chance and opportunity to do better, to meet new people and learn, but it is also a time of anxiety because of all the unknowns that this fresh start holds.

How are you feeling when thinking about your kids going back to school?

Are you relieved to have a more predictable routine again that makes it easier to carve out time for a workout, lunch or just alone time. Your kids are happy to see their friends again.

Having a schedule and knowing what to expect can make life easier.

You could also be worried about having that schedule back – it makes the logistics with work, all the after-school activities, cooking dinner, monitoring screen and bedtime so much less flexible.

And maybe your kid is not so happy to be back and having a hard time adjusting.

It is all an individual reaction

What comes up for us parents when our kids go back to school after the long summer off, is very individual and personal.

For many years, this time a year I had a massive knot in my stomach at this time a year. My youngest child has learning differences and was socially immature as well. With the structure of the class changing yearly, she often struggled to find her place in the new pecking order. New teachers meant that she needed to adjust to their teaching style. It also meant that they would not always be aware of her academic accommodations.

She was too immature and shy to advocate for herself.

As a parent, I was aware of this transition and really wanted to make it as smooth and easy as possible for her…

So for me, this was a time of action. I arranged meetings with all of the teachers before school started or during the first week.

We agreed on an action plan and a check in routine during the school year.

I also addressed my daughter’s social needs by trying to have play dates early in the year to help her feel more connected.

Still, this proactive approach always left me feeling anxious, and not in control.

I so wanted my daughter to have a good school year, academically and socially. I wanted her to have an easier year than the one before.

And it was not in my control.

Take a look in the mirror

Our children’s well-being and successes, happiness and safety are often directly connected to how we are feeling ourselves. Their mood and their experiences have a direct impact on our own feelings. Their successes and happy moments lift us up, make us proud and we are happy too and feel that everything is “on track”.

When things are not going well, it can bring out our insecurities, our feelings of guilt, of not being good enough and not being in control.

A client recently shared that she was only ever as happy as her unhappiest child.

Can you relate?

I tried so hard to stay in control. I was so pro-active to help my daughter get off on the right footing. After all, that was part of my job as her parent, right?

But – I could not control what was really so important to me and what triggered me to act upon.

And that was creating the knot in my stomach.

I knew that what really mattered to me, was something I had no influence over.

It was my daughter’s part, her role, her life – not mine.

I could give her tools, but she had to use them.

Getting back control of your feelings

Making ourselves aware of the real reasons we want to act on our kids’ behalf, is the first step to really support them! Asking ourselves WHY it is important to us.

  • Do we define support as removing roadblocks and doing all the work?
  • Are we only happy, when they are – and so we need to make sure that they always are?
  • Do we think that we always know best?
  • Is it too stressful to witness them struggling and figuring things out, that we need to ease this stress for us..?

Asking ourselves WHAT it is that is driving our motivations and HOW we can best support them without taking away from their own learning experiences.

  • Do we want to help our children or is our own desire for harmony, for less stress and anxiety or for more control driving us?
  • How can we help our children to become more confident and self-advocate for their needs?
  • How can we support our children without sending them the message that we are always there to clear the path for them?
  • How can we show our support without actually doing the work for them?

As parents, we are here to support our kids – but that does not mean that we are doing the work for them.

Be clear on what you are in control of and what is yours, and what belongs to your children.

You can be there for them, all the way, without depriving them of what is theirs – the experience of mastering the challenges that life brings.

Empowering our kids does not mean removing all roadblocks and all obstacles. It means, giving them the tools they need to be confident, know what they need and ask for it.

It means building their resilience and communication skills.

How am I feeling about my daughter going back to school this year? I feel good! She is in the right place, she proudly takes on her responsibility and my trusting her to do so, has helped her so much. She cannot make a mistake if she applies herself and learns along the way.

Well, if I’m honest, I still have a tiny knot in my stomach. After the stresses and strains of steering four kids through their school life, my youngest is now in her senior year. And finally the knot I feel is more excitement than anxiety.