Have you ever noticed what happens when you move from one situation to another? For example, consider what it feels like when you’re driving from one appointment to another. Are you preoccupied, slightly anxious, moving in fast-forward?
A certain amount of transition stress accompanies all periods of change, from major shifts like a divorce to extremely minor adjustments like moving from one room to another. So in September, families experience a healthy dose of stress as kids transition from the unstructured play of summer to the focused environment of a school.
How can you manage transition stress mindfully as a family? Try these three approaches:
It’s common for children experiencing anxiety and stress to express it indirectly in the form of acting out or withdrawing. But you can teach them to identify what is causing them to feel “off”. For example, therapist and author Michelle Kambolis recommends creating a “worry wall”. You and the kids can write down what’s causing stress on sticky notes and put these on the wall.
Make Rest Sacred
How often does your family carve out time for rest, both in terms of sleep, as well as low-key, stress-reducing activities? Can you create times, especially in the evening, when phones are set aside, conversation occurs, and energy levels naturally dial down? Also, many do not realize just how much sleep children need to function well. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends up to 12 hours a night for children from kindergarten to the third grade.
Create Soothing Routines
In the weeks leading up to the new school year, create and practice the routines that will make the whole school year easier on the whole family. In particular, mornings and bedtimes are common zones of transition stress, so what routines will alleviate that funky energy? Do hot baths help? How about asking a few questions at bedtime like, “What were the highlights and the lowlights of your day?” Maybe choosing clothing the night before and laying it out beside the bed could ease some of the next day’s transition stress.