At some point during the first week of school, you or your child are likely to melt down. Many times perhaps. And that’s okay. That is to be expected.
None of us have been used to this level of engagement or energy for months. And we have to remember that for our kids, being at school is hard work. Staying focused for that long is hard work. Being a good friend and understanding social cues is hard work. Add a mask to all of this and it becomes even harder. For our virtual learners – looking at screens for that long is hard work. Not having the social relief between passing periods with friends is hard work. Being around parents all day is hard work. (#sorrynotsorry).
And our kids are doing it! Hooray!
But not without a cost to their level of fatigue.
So what would this First Week Fatigue look like?
For one child, First Week Fatigue may look like a disrespectful attitude. Stomping off for something seemingly unimportant.
For another child, it might be crying more often. Becoming tearful when she mistakenly forgot to sign her syllabus on the first day.
Maybe for another child it looks like being angry. Throwing things in the living room when they are asked to come to the table for dinner.
However their fatigue looks in your house, no matter how they share with you their level of fatigue with you, know that is our job to respond to their fatigue, not their behavior.
Don’t start this week by giving out lots of consequences.
The first week is hard. Being in quarantine for months has made this harder. Instead of giving out lots of consequences, prepare ahead of time.
Know they will need more rest and more breaks. Know they may not want to be doing all the chores on their list this week. They may want to lay around more in the evening – watch more YouTube.
This doesn’t mean there are no expectations for them to contribute during the first week, but it does mean we can be proactive in helping them more, having more compassion, giving extra grace.
Plan ahead to have more of yourself available to them this week.
This may mean you intentionally put your electronics in time-out from 3pm-8pm. Or maybe you order take-out for dinner so you aren’t distracted by having to cook a meal. (Keep in mind that a sit-down restaurant may not be a ‘break’ for them. Especially little kids can find a sit-down restaurant to be more restricting – sorta like school actually – where they have to behave a certain way that may be hard for them to do after being in school all day.)
Other ideas may be intentional physical snuggles with them if that is something your child needs or enjoys. Perhaps it is running around in the backyard with them.
Whatever your kid needs to relax, unwind, or release stress is where you can focus your energy to help them get through this first week of school – minimizing the negative impact of the First Week Fatigue on your family!
One final reminder.
We are not exempt from the First Week Fatigue either! Be kind to yourself and your parenting this week. Perhaps find time for self-care, reflection, engagement with a friend or just time to yourself this week. We have all had a long spring and summer. Realize your fatigue and your edginess and take 10-15 minutes to re-center so that the fatigue doesn’t tailspin into a hard night for everyone.
Feel free to share how you have survived the First Week Fatigue in the comments below!