My Kid Is Back In School, Now What? 7 Ways Parents Can Maintain A Sense of Calm In Their Family

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This week, we have a very special guest blog from Bianka Hardin ofCentered Therapy ChicagoBianka Hardin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and owner Centered Therapy Chicago, LLC, a small therapy psychology practice in Northcenter that provides individual, child, couples, and family therapy. We specialize in working with children, adolescents, and adults who experience anxiety, depression, or distressing feelings as a result of typical stressors related to related to their life satisfaction, work/life balance, career, relationships, parenthood, family difficulties, identity and spirituality. 
 
We also have expertise in working with clients who have experienced significant losses or who have a history of emotionally troubling or abusive relationships. We provide culturally competent therapeutic services and utilize a wide variety of treatment modalities including relational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and solution-oriented approaches.
 
My Kid Is Back In School, Now What? 7 Ways Parents Can Maintain A Sense of Calm In TheirFamily
 
Fall in Chicago brings many transitions. Kids go back to school, parents adjust to homework, carpooling and extracurricular activities schedules. The Bears are back on the field, and we embrace Fall without thinking about winter or the polar vortex! Change --even good change-- can result in expected feelings of stress for parents and children. The good news there are things we can do to help us manage our feelings in a proactive manner. 
 
1. Focus On Yourself! 
 
The top complaint I hear from parents, especially moms, is that there is no time for self-care. I know, it's hard! Here is where I want to challenge you. When we are on an airplane, the flight attendant tells us to put our air mask first before putting on our child's. Why is that? In order for us to be good parents and make good decisions, we need to take care of ourselves first. So, self-care is not selfish, it is the best thing parents can do for themselves and their families. 
 
2. Good Enough Is Good Enough 
 
Remember, change is not easy, no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Be kind to yourself and get comfortable with being "good enough." Our (very) high expectations in self and others can sometimes create negative feelings. Think about it this way: If today was your last day on earth, would you really care as much about that a dish was left in the sink? 
 
3. Make Whole Family Self-Care A Priority 
 
Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep, healthy foods, and fun together. More than you know, this will help reduce stress levels and increase connectedness within your family. The more we feel connected, the better we feel! 
 
4. Make Regular And Open Communication In Your Family A Habit. 
 
Make daily check-ins a habit now. Don't wait until your kids are teens. Instead of asking, "how was your day?" or "how was school?" ask open ended, fun, and creative questions. I read a great blog post about this called 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids "So how was school today?" without Asking them "So how was school today?" by Elizabeth from Simple Simon and Company. 
 
But here are some of the questions I start with for my family: 
  • What was the best/worst thing that happened at school today?
  • Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  • How did you help somebody today?
  • If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with? Why?
  • If today had a theme song what would it be?
  • What are the top 3 (or 5) things that you hear people say in the halls?
5. Start Small. Pick One Thing at a Time to Change.
 
Choose just one manageable thing you can do create a positive change in yourself and/or your family. Choosing just one thing is more likely to result in success. After you have successfully made your one thing a habit, move to another thing if you like. 
 
6. Get Involved In Your Community
 
One wonderful thing about living in Northcenter is that there are so many fun family and community. When I go to my favorite local coffee shop and look at the bulletin board, I am always amazed at all the cool stuff there is to do for parents and kids. Trust me, you will feel healthier and more protected from stress when you feel a sense of connection to others. I encourage you to get involved with a parent support network, set up family playdates, and just get involved with things are you excited about. 
 
7. Get support
 
There are so many wellness focused providers and creative and healthy outlets right in our backyard. If you or someone in your family are still feeling overwhelmed after the first weeks of school, it is important to be proactive and get support now. Talk to your child's teacher or a therapist trained in working with children and parents. Or get a massage, and take a meditation or yoga class. Anything that can help you feel supported or better cope with stress will have a positive impact on your quality or life.
 
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