Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends,
How is it going? Has the back to school honeymoon worn off yet? For your child/ren and for you? I’ve got a few tips for you. I know, I know these tips might have been good to have before, but now you are ready! ;)
Tame the Communication Chaos:
Create a dedicated email for all things school related and use it for all of your kids (and maybe their activities?). If I had done this it would have looked like: eliaskidsschool@ or something like that. It’s a gift to have these emails all in one place – we get too many emails in general and it's so easy to miss something! Create and update this now, especially if you have a younger kid! It’s not too late.
Create an app folder for all your kid related apps on your phone. Label it with their name(s) and drag all relevant apps there so they are all in one place. With only my youngest left at home, mine includes just the basics of school communication, her sports teams, pta directory, and lunch money. Mine looks like this:
Tips, especially for those with younger kids:
So you knew it would be a big adjustment for your child, you minimized their after school commitments, but they are still losing it. What to do?
Validate their emotions (name it to tame it) if they come home dysregulated. Ie “omgosh, you are sad/mad/had a rough day! That seems hard.” Don’t try to rationalize or teach. Just empathize for now.
Limit questions. Instead: “Nice to see you!” or “I was thinking of you today when I xx” or just ask about lunch!
Help them regulate their nervous system - a hug, cuddle on the couch or sit outside for an afterschool snack and observe the nature around you.
Shift their evening routine earlier – have them eat dinner early (like 4:30/5pm!) which helps their mood and moves their bedtime to a needed earlier time. Sleep is key.
Tips for those with older kids:
Do some or all of the above!
Do not track their grades day by day (or even week by week!). If you are getting email notifications daily, change your settings asap. It’s not your job to police your kids’ grades (plus most of the time they haven’t been updated so the info you get is not correct and it creates an unnecessary and harmful conflict point with your kids!)
Let them own their grades – again, it’s NOT your job to be the homework police. Let them know that their school is their responsibility and ask them to let you know when they need support. Middle and high school are massive times for growth and this is their opportunity to figure out what works — and doesn't — for them. Don’t prevent this needed growth from happening until the risks are higher ie: college.
Me (Vanessa) with NYT bestselling author, Jennifer Breheny Wallace at her launch party!
If you are local…
I’m thrilled to co-sponsor, along with Wilton Library, Wilton Youth Council, and Susan Bauerfeld, PhD, an exciting Author Talk with Jennifer Wallace re her New York Times Bestseller: Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic - and What We Can Do About It
Jennifer Wallace – October 17, 2023 @ 7 PM at the Wilton Library. Space is very limited. Register asap.
Trust me when I tell you that you won’t want to miss this. Eye-opening, inspiring and a lens shift!
And if you are not local…
Why – and how – to apologize to your kids. You might not be cracking eggs on your child’s forehead, but we all make mistakes and hurt the ones we love. As a parent coach, I call these “ruptures” in the parent-child relationship. The good news is we can repair.
Thank you 068 Magazine for featuring my Block Party USA movement. I founded Block Party USA as an easy way to achieve connection, civility, and community – and especially to foster free play for kids, which is proven to reduce anxiety and boost their independence. Neighbor talking to neighbor, away from devices and enjoying face-to-face time. I believe gathering for a block party even just once a year can have a profound ripple effect.
Finally, a little admin...
Please note that my rates will increase for the first time in over three years on October 1, 2023.
About the Author
Vanessa Elias is a mental health activist, certified parent coach, speaker, and writer featured on NPR, PBS, and in the WSJ. She is the founder of Thrive with a Guide, LLC and serves as a group facilitator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Block Party USA is her passion project. Vanessa helps parents achieve healthier family relationships and lasting, meaningful connections.