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Off to School You Go

Butterflies, frogs, and galloping horses. Your stomach feels like a veritable zoo as you and your child anticipate the first day of school. Preparation is the key to soothe the jitters that inevitably occur with this milestone.

School Visit

Take your child on a field trip and enjoy an afternoon exploring his school and surrounding areas. Order a glass of juice and relax in the cafeteria as you take note of the current prices in order to assess how much allowance you should give. Show him where the bathrooms are located. The playground is always a hit while the clinic can be your lifesaver. This will minimize his anxiety about getting lost in school without you as his navigator.

  

Read a Book

There are numerous books that tackle the issues that can arise on your child’s first day of school. “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn is a good resource for separation anxiety. “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes confronts the subject of bullying in the early years. Settle in for a fun yet informative story-telling session with your little one. 

Shop Around

Involve your child in your preparations. Allow him to choose his backpack and lunchbox. His favorite Ben 10 pencils with matching eraser and sharpener will get him excited to write. Ask him to count the number of notebooks he needs. Giving him the responsibility to select the materials he needs for school will aid in boosting his confidence.

Play Time

Cousins, neighbors, and children of your friends: ask around for potential schoolmates and arrange for a play date. A familiar face will ease his fears of being all alone in unfamiliar territory.

 

Plan Ahead

Prepare everything your child will need the night before. Try on his uniform and make sure you lay it out for easy access in the wee hours of the morning. Alternatively, you can ask your child to choose his outfit if the school does not require uniforms. Plan his healthy lunch menu for the whole week and ensure that all the ingredients you need are on hand. Keep a little notebook or have a bulletin board where you can post reminders and lists for a smooth first day of school. 

Sleep Early

Make sure your child gets at least eight to ten hours of sleep the night before. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed due to lack of sleep is a surefire way to render all your preparations awry.

Early Bird

Get to school early to allow your child time to relax in his surroundings before the chaos of school begins. When planning for this, take traffic conditions into consideration. A dry run the week before can also help you find the easiest and most convenient route to the main gate. If you do not have a driver, allot enough time to scout around for a parking slot, which may often be non-existent if you arrive when everyone else does.

 

Enjoy School

Having a positive attitude toward school and learning will do wonders in boosting the success of your child – on the first day as well as the succeeding days. “Have fun in school” is a good reminder to impart to your child as he embarks on this journey.

The Empty Nest

Life has a funny way of throwing parents curve balls. When you get married, it’s all, “When are you going to have kids? You must have kids! Kids, kids, kids!” So you rearrange your life for these little ones, your offspring, God’s blessings – and pour them all the time, love, sacrifice, and effort they require.

Then one day, they all leave. Poof! School’s done, employment’s doing well, the transition to productive adulthood complete. Congratulations, parents, on a job well done!

But what comes next? When raising children, the rhyme and reason for parenthood, is over, where does that leave you?

 

Empty Nest Syndrome, “Feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes," according to Psychology Today, is a very real struggle for many parents. It can last anywhere from 18 months to two years. It affects more women than men. It can also trigger a period of reevaluation and introspection, which can leave parents vulnerable to identity and marital crises, and even destructive behaviors such as alcoholism.

 

If you are or will soon be an empty nester, take heart. It is natural to feel loss and even grieve during this period, so don’t shrug it off and hope to get over it. Acknowledge the sadness and do your best to cope. Here are some expert tips:

  • Plan ahead. If your last child is about to leave home, start looking for opportunities that will keep you busy and engaged. This may be the time to start the backyard renovation you’d had your heart set on for years.
  • Seek support. Other parents are going through the same thing as you – reach out and share your experiences. As the saying goes, “A burden shared is a burden halved.”
  • Keep in touch. Make an effort to keep the communication lines open with your child through phone or video calls, chats, social media, and periodic visits.
  • Take up a hobby. When kids are growing up, time is the greatest luxury. Now you’ll have all the time in the world to take up scuba diving, knitting, writing, gourmet cooking, or anything else you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Rekindle romance. It’s no secret that the stresses of child rearing can kill intimacy in marriage. Now that you and your spouse have the house to yourselves, explore what ignited your passion for each other in the first place. And if you are single, now’s the time to start opening yourself up to the possibility of romance re-entering your life.

The empty nest is a life phase just as marriage and parenthood were. Lean into the experience and remember: you, too, can get through this.

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2017
May