Back to school

As a widowed solo parent this time of year can bring both excitement and anxiety. Having the kids home for the summer and trying to schedule camps and activities to keep them busy is not only exhausting, but can be expensive. And if you are working it is a necessity to find care for your kids for the 8-10 weeks they are out of school. I don’t know about you, but these are the times when year-round school becomes appealing! Summer always seems to end in a blink of an eye – it is always too short to accomplish all the things we wish to. And when we are grieving, we may not have the energy to do what we want…that’s ok – maybe this was the summer to not schedule. But now, the kids are going back in less than 2 weeks. It is time to kick it into high gear. Whether your child is entering school for the first time into Kindergarten, or transitioning into high school or about to leave home for university – no matter what grade they are entering, back to school is hard on parents. Here are few tips we have for getting ready – both you and the kids. Make a list of what you need before you go shopping. There is nothing worse than wandering the aisles trying to figure out what you need. Don’t know about you, but that typically means I come with more than I needed and forget what I truly needed! Schools are open this week. Call them to determine who your child’s teacher is and try to get an appointment to meet with them. This will give you an opportunity to meet, share your story and work on a communication plan between you and their teacher. Your kids spend 6 hrs a day at school, their teacher may see behaviours or emotions that you won’t at home. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your kids at school. There are social workers and extra help staff at each school that you can utilize to support your child. These resources may be limited, but push to get them if you feel your child needs it. Create a plan between you, your child and the teacher for what they can do if class becomes overwhelming. Depending on the age of your child, is there a place in the class they can go to for some quiet time; can the walk a lap of the school to clear their thoughts; is there a safe room in the school they can go to burn off some energy? Our school had a room with a small trampoline and punching bag that the kids could come and use for 5 mins to release some energy! Honor that your child may wish to remain anonymous and not have others know their parent died. Are there strategies that can be put into place that limits the awareness to other students? We had a card that was kept on the desk. When it was green, all was good, but if they needed to leave for a break, they would flip the card (the other side was red or could have a different symbol) and that would be a sign for the teacher to acknowledge and the student could leave quietly. Paperwork…..there will be a ton of it and it will ask who the parents are, guardians, emergency contacts. These are gut wrenching questions that we somehow need to answer. Take your time with these! Start talking with your child about what the first day of school will look like. Who their teacher will be (if you know), what door they may enter, etc. Start making a routine for what the mornings will look like. Now is the time to get bedtime routines back to “normal”! It takes time to change a routine and summer is a great time for the routine to get messed up! Get your camera ready for the first day of school. Batteries charged! Don’t forget to take some selfies so that you are in the picture too. Get your Kleenex ready and your support person. Once the doors close and your kids are inside, it is time for you! Make sure your boss knows you will be late on the first day of school!! Its called self care. Its take out meals all week. Everyone will be tired and emotional. Make dinners easy on you for the first week – frozen, take out, grilled cheese – these are all acceptable dinners!! Pat yourself on the back. YOU DID IT! You somehow managed to get your kid(s) back to school on your own. It may not have been pretty or graceful or stress free, but YOU did it! Take a moment and honor yourself. We are here for you. Reach out if you need help or want to chat. You don’t need to do this alone. We get it


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