What does ‘Back to School’ mean to you as a mum?

The holidays are over and time to get back to school and into a routine for those whose children are starting school as well as those returning. With it will come all kinds of anxieties for them. A new school, class, teacher, friends, the list can be endless. So it’s important to allow your youngster to express their concerns and for you to reassure them, rather than dismiss them. They will feel even more anxious if you just tell them everything will be fine. Instead, work together to find the best solution to their problem.

Separation anxiety can affect you both, which is hardly surprising.

Children can feel worried about leaving mum, going somewhere strange, and for really young children scared you may not come back for them. As a mum, it can be really upsetting when you realise your baby is growing up and moving on, taking their next step into the world. I know it tugged at my heartstrings. But do remember you are the adult and your child doesn’t need the
worry of trying to comfort you. If they sense your anxiety it will lead them to feel guilty about leaving you, enjoying themselves, and worried about forming new friendships, in case you get upset. If they see you anxious and worried, they are likely to feel that school is frightening, and that isn’t something you want for them. And they certainly won’t share their news in case you get
upset. Of course, teenagers are less likely to want to do that anyway, as that is quite normal. Be confident and reassuring when you leave them and keep your tears for when you are alone or have a cup of coffee with a friend.

Routine and boundaries are really important.

During the summer break, the kids have had more freedom and routines have been relaxed. Now they need to get back on track. It’s not about being harsh, it ensures they know what is expected of them, even though they will attempt to push boundaries at every opportunity. You may be tempted to give in at times, as it can be exhausting for you to hold your ground. But if you give in they will push harder to get more of their own way, until they are running rings around you. Bedtimes become a battleground, tired youngsters get ratty, and then tempers rise, which has an adverse effect on your relationship. Kids don’t have respect for parents they can manipulate, and they will take that behaviour into other relationships in adulthood. I hear mums say so often they are worried their child won’t like them if they say no, and they want to be best friends with their child. I’m sorry, you can’t be their friend in that way. You are there to guide and support them, in a loving kind way. So they grow into confident adults who understand about respect for others as well as themselves. I really admire mums with school-age children, especially those who have a job outside the home as well as running a household. It can be exhausting and I wonder whether you take care of yourselves. At this point, you are probably screaming at me……………

”I don’t have any time for me!“

However it’s important to take some time out for you, and recharge your batteries, as you can’t operate on a flat battery. Your family depend on you. Rushing around trying to fit everything into a busy day can raise your stress and anxiety levels, leaving you continually tired and irritable. As a result, your partner and children are going to get the backlash, and those relationships
will suffer, and deteriorate, with everyone feeling miserable.

So if you feel there isn’t time in your busy day to do something nice for you, such as reading, listening to music, a relaxing bath etc. then at least prioritise things in your day. Learn to delegate, rather than doing it all yourself.

At the very least, stop and take a minute every so often during your day, take 5 really deep breaths, and relax your body, bring those stress levels down, before launching into the next task.

By Wendy Capewell

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