The Back to School Transition

By: David Smyth, August 9, 2018

Although summer isn't officially over yet, I did notice this morning during my workout that it's still dark these days at 6:30 a.m. As perhaps you've heard from your favorite HBO show, winter's coming! (I've still never seen it....should I start?) 
 
In the Smyth household, the kids start back to school next week, but as early as the last couple of days, there's been some contention with the 13-year-old, as he attended his school open house to get his schedule, see some friends, and meet his teachers for the coming year. By the time he got home from this annual festival, he went straight to his room and laid down on his bed like he was dying. "Um...how was school?" I asked. "I was just reminded why I hate school, and I need some space," he told me. 
 
Did my 13-year-old just go to school for 60 minutes on a Tuesday, and then ask me for space as if he's overstimulated? Isn't this the same child who will play video games for as long as the charge will last on his phone and still function? What the heck happened at school?
 
I texted his mom to ask "What's up with Gates? He's a bear now, what happened at school?" She responded that he didn't like seeing certain people, and that he has to take gym class but hates physical activity. He didn't get the science teacher he wanted, and his favorite teacher has retired. She also told me that she'd been telling him to work on cleaning his room to organize some hand-me-downs for the other boys, which he clearly does not want to do. Then, she added that the wind might also have blown harder than he likes, and a raindrop might have hit his shoulder. There's also more grass on one side of the sidewalk at school than the other, which might have set off his OCD. She admitted that she also may have played the wrong song in the car during the short drive to school! I laughed and figured well, that makes sense! And believe it or not, about 15 minutes later, he did emerge from hibernation, just like a bear waking up to forage. (By the way, a big part of teenager-itis seems to be a constant need to eat!)
 
In all seriousness, with the kids going back to school, there are new routines to get used to, from who drops off whom, and when, and where, to who's now riding the bus because it's cool, and who's now refusing to ride the bus because it's not cool. There's also figuring out who signed up for what and when, although I do know I'm in the minority in that I don't force my kids to do activities they don't want to, so I have it relatively easy and can't really complain to those of you with aspiring Division III athletes. (Come on folks, laugh!)
 
And then of course there's enforcing new/old sleep schedules and bedtimes, and I would also challenge you that this is a great time of year to redefine screen time usage for you kiddos. If you're struggling with that, one thing I've started rolling out with my kids is Disney Circle. This allows you to control all of the electronic devices in your household, and set parameters for who can access what, and for how long. And, if you want to have a family game night, or an attempt at a family dinner (hey I know how these go!), Disney Circle gives you the ability to pause all data, so your kids' phones won't be constantly dinging and beeping. 
 
For all of us parents and grandparents who are at the mercy of the school schedule, this is also a great opportunity for you to reset you start your perfect day, and when it will start each morning. Do you roll out of bed and just go, or do you take a little time to read, meditate, pray, exercise, or just read the paper to see who died? (Ed Smyth, Kathy Sellers, I see you!) The point is, you can decide how you kick your day off before the kids wake up. This is often the only time we have to ourselves until they go to bed, and then we're usually right behind them. The key is, as you're adjusting to your kids' new schedule, prioritize yours too. 

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