How is it August already? How to enjoy the transition to fall
Tips for remaining grounded during the back-to-school transition
By Leah Persky, PhD & CFLE • Manager of Family Life Education
Summer just seemed to be in full swing and now here we are at back-to-school time and Halloween candy ALREADY in stores! Enjoying the end of summer seems to take a back seat to planning for these future events. It can be a challenge to stay in the present moment. I hope to enjoy these last weeks of summer as much as possible, despite how busy things are.
In this article, I offer tips that I hope will help you be more grounded and present during this time of transition. It is when we are grounded and focused that we are most able to enjoy each moment and each other. If you have ever been distracted by doing many things at once, you quickly realize how hard it is to enjoy any of the things, even if they are enjoyable. That is why there has been a lot of talk lately about the power of mono-focusing rather than multi-tasking.
My kids have already started talking about the new school year with a mix of emotions – excitement, anxiety, and sadness that summer is ending. This is especially true for my oldest, who will be starting a new school. The mix of feelings that many kids and adults face in transitions is normal and yet often hard to explain – especially for young kids. Being grounded is one that that I find to be very helpful through these times.
Feeling grounded is a topic that has come up a lot for me recently. I have taken up paddle boarding. I am learning the importance of using my feet to control the board, find balance and feel in control. The small movements and power in our feet is where being grounded begins – it is something that is physical and emotional. I am working on feeling more grounded, and therefore, present during each day; something that is often a challenge during this busy time. When I am grounded, I find more enjoyment each day. Research from the National Institute of Health and others demonstrates that being grounded and mindful leads to reduced stress and anxiety, improved relationships, and better ability to focus.
Feeling grounded is especially important for parents who have busy schedules, filled with many transitions, places to go, things to get, and needs to address. The needs and feelings of parents often take a back seat during busy times. Here are a few tips to help you remain grounded:
1) Focus on yourself and how you are doing. So much of the back-to-school season is focused on the kids, but we can’t forget the parents. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, your children will pick up on this on some level. I encourage parents that come to me for parent coaching to check in with themselves. Ask yourself: How am I doing and what do I need today? You may find that you are feeling anxious or dysregulated.
If you notice that you are feeling stressed and/or dysregulated, do something to support yourself feel more grounded. I suggest you sit in the grass or outside for just a few minutes; take a quick walk or other activity you like; take your shoes off and place your feet on the earth to feel grounded; mindfully eat a healthy snack; take deep breaths; and be sure you are hydrated. Setting aside time each day goes a long way towards preventing the anxious feelings that often accompany completing our to-do lists. Find something that you REALLY enjoy and can easily so, this is different for everyone.
2) Expect regression, and big emotions from kids of all ages now – this is normal. Many kids mourn the freedom they have during the summer and may feel concerned about their new schedules. It is important to validate their feelings, even if it seems like something small, and really listen to them. We cannot control our kids’ emotions, but we can listen, focus on, and also empathize with them. Acknowledging and naming the feelings can be very helpful in processing big emotions.
I encourage families to have a short weekly family meeting. Talk about the plans for the week, check in, and talk about what to expect. Be sure to plan a few fun things too. Some kids like to see a calendar so they know what’s ahead. Scheduling time together as a family, free from phones and technology, is a great way to ground and slow down.
3) Ask for help when you need it. This is something I commonly say to parents I work with, and I often remind myself of it. We often think we have to do everything ourselves (you know who you are!), but there is power in asking for, receiving, and offering help. This helps create connection, which builds community. So go ahead and ask that friend, neighbor, or family member for help; the worst they can do is say no. The best outcome is that they help you and you help them, and you all become stronger for it. This also sends a powerful message to your kids; asking for help and helping others is part of life.
I hope that you can stay in the moment, find time to be grounded, and enjoy the sweetness of the end of summer. I also hope you can embrace the uncertainty and excitement that comes with starting the new school year. Being grounded through times of transition help us all grow more resilient, physically and mentally. If you would like more information about parent coaching please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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