Starting a new job is like learning an entirely new language. It’s intimidating, bewildering at times and a bit overwhelming. I am just “riding the wave” right now until I come out on the other side.
On the flip side, this time of year is always so exciting. September 1- this always feels like the real start to a new year for me, (and perhaps for most teachers). This is our opportunity to start fresh, with new insights, new goals, and renewed energy to bring to our practice. In my case, I also get all new colleagues and an entirely new school system. Cue the nervous laughter.
As parents, we also have to navigate uncharted terrain. In many ways, this is just like starting a new job, with a new school or class language and procedures and routines to learn alongside our children.
It is an exciting time. Emotions are likely to run high in all directions as we attempt to figure it all out. I woke up this morning and as my mind started winding up, it stopped and a crystal clear thought overtook me.
Be patient with yourself.
Yes, of course. Breathe. One thing at a time. The same goes for our children. They are learning an entirely new language this year. It will take patience. Perhaps the best way we can show our children what it means to practice patience is to model it ourselves. We are their number one teacher after all.
So here is my plan as I ride the wave into a new school year as a teacher and a parent.
- Build in quiet time daily– to reflect, to read, to pray, meditate, to stare out the window- you get the idea. Put aside the to-do list for 15-20 minutes. It will still be there when you’re done and now a more sane person can tackle it. For our kids, 30 minutes (at the very least) of quiet, unstructured time is essential for their well-being. I just make sure my boys each have their own space and let them look at books or play quietly by themselves. (No iPads or electronic toys). It doesn’t happen every day but the more regular the better.
- Exercise– best way to de-stress, ever. We know this. Let’s do it, consistently. Little bits and pieces count. Walk the dog. Kick a soccer ball with the kids for 10 minutes. Do some crunches or pushups when you have 2 minutes to spare. (This is more of a pep talk for myself, can you tell?) Our kids REALLY need to move. As a mother of two boys, I think this may be the understatement of the year. So enough already, you know this.
- Assume the Best– in your colleagues, in your child’s teacher, in other parents, in your child. We are all in it together. We all want to do our best. Be positive and assume that everyone is trying their best. This mindset and the relationships you establish as a result will carry you through the school year.
There is a laundry list of other things to add, other must-do, sanity saving tips for a smooth transition to a new school year but at the end of the day the most important thing is to practice patience, starting with ourselves. I find that I can do this with greater ease if I am making the things above part of my regular routine. Of course, if it doesn’t happen one day, oh well- there is always tomorrow.
Happy New (School) Year everyone! Don’t forget to breathe. And smile.