Thank goodness for the timing of Labor Day weekend! I never cease to be amazed by the range of emotions that our family experiences during the first couple of weeks back at school. At first there is the thrill of getting back into the routine, then there is the reality of trying to remember the new rules and processes for each class or activity, and always present is navigating the social landscape to figure out where you fit in. Adrenaline is running high and sleep seems to allude the the kids the first few nights as they process the new routine and all that they have experienced during the school day. At the end of the first week a three day weekend is exactly what we all need to regroup.
Each of my three children processes experiences differently but all three seem to save up their emotional responses until bedtime. With such much going on it is no wonder that it all comes to a head at the end of the day in the safety of their own home where they can finally let it all go. The challenge is that this is the same time of day when both my energy and emotional reserves are also at their lowest and it is so easy to meet their emotion with emotion of my own.
This school year I have found myself repeating a phrase from the parenting communication course I teach "all behavior comes from an unmet need, find the need". For each child the need is different. This past week for Madison it has been both social and time management related, for Cole it has been handling his fourth new school in as many years, for Donovan it has been managing the reality of the first day of kindergarten with the built up expectation of waiting all summer for the day to finally arrive. Each one manifests their unmet needs with different behavior (just to keep me on my toes I am sure). Madison tends to push us away, Cole has a hard time sleeping and wants to sleep in our room, Donovan will be a bit sad and talk about anything that might have disappointed him and then he will cheer up and focus on what went well.
Although they each have different needs, and different ways of expressing those unmet needs, what each one needs from me is to understand that home is the only place they can let it all out. I know it is extra important in these first couple of weeks to have an evening routine that will allow for some extra time at the end of the day to allow them to process all of this. I will be making sure that I do everything possible to keep my energy and emotional reserves up a bit more during this time so that I can patiently listen and help them at the end of the day. Sometimes easier said than done but I find it helps if I am not riding the emotional roller coaster with them at the same time.