The first week of schools must have been very hectic for parents, especially to those whose children are going to kindergartens or schools for the first time. All over the country, parents are trying to readjust to new routines after over a month of relaxing break. It’s almost like a rude awakening; those peaceful and quiet days are now transformed into chaotic and rushed ones. Even those without school going children are also feeling the pinch. For about a month, they were able to drive on a clear open road to work, but that’s history now.
But it’s not all bad. Things will usually go back to normal, if there is such a situation. To help you cope with the first (few) weeks’ blues, I have listed several common obstacles that we must know how to overcome.
The main source of stress during these few weeks especially to young parents is the separation anxiety experienced by little ones who are going to schools on their own for the first time. Though the Gen Y and Z seem more eager to go to schools, there are still a few who found the experience daunting. They would cry and scream for their parents. In some cases, even the parents cried too! This posed the question, “Who is more anxious?”
The best way to deal with this is to trust the teachers and schools to do their job. Ideally, teachers who are responsible for Year One students should be the best teachers, the ones who are calm, positives and able to win these young hearts. They should not further intimidate the new students with stern and unreasonable warnings. They should instead send the positive messages that school is safe and learning is fun.
But even if the teachers are less than ideals, these parents must learn to let go and provide lots of support, persuasion and encouragement to their children. Then they can just leave them in their class rooms for them to experience being on their own. Soon, they will find that there is nothing to it and school is indeed fun.
The other “abnormal” thing during the first few weeks is the severe traffic congestion around the school areas. It makes you wonder, “Where are all these cars come from?” To make matters worse, there are a few who think of only themselves and could not care less if they are unnecessarily blocking the traffic.
I understand and would even encourage if they want to personally drop off the kids, go and check out their classrooms or meet up with their teachers. However, if they fail to follow the basic traffic laws including parking indiscriminately, then they would have imposed hardships to other parents who want to do the same for their kids. The thing is, based on my experience as a PTA Chairperson, these people seem eager only in the beginning but were no where to be seen when it matters such as during PTA meetings.
In their haste to leave home as early as possible, many parents and children tend to take breakfast very lightly. There is simply no time to sit down and eat, let alone prepare a decent and healthy meals for breakfast.
However, this is one aspect that must be emphasized upon. Growing up children need a lot of nutritions an breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I lauded the call by the Minister of Education for schools to be flexible and ensure that these young kids have ample time to take their breakfast.
Parents too can be more proactive and creative in doing so. “No time” is not an excuse. Be creative and learn how to prepare simple but nutritious meals such as scrambled egg with toast, sandwiches or simple fried rice with bits of chicken and vegetables. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet dish; a quick but wholesome food is just as good, if not better.
Bedtime and Other Routines
Probably the other biggest change experienced by these families is the changing routine. The students will come home tired, and some may have to go to extra classes or religious schools. It is extremely important that they have enough rests in between. If they appear too tired, then a quick nap should be allowed to recharge their energies. However, don’t let the nap to disturb their other routines including the bedtime routine.
In the evening, parents must do whatever they can to ensure the kids have sufficient sleep of at least eight hours. Far too many Malaysian children are sleeping less than that. Among things they can do is to have early dinners, cutting down on televisions and switching off those distracting gadgets. Establish a proper bedtime routine so that they are ready to wake up fresh tomorrow.
The next few weeks will continue to be challenging until all these routines are firmly in place. Till then, please be patient and ensure that the children continue to receive your endless supply of love and attention.
Zaid Mohamad is a Certified Parental Coach and the bestselling author of Smart Parents, Brighter Kids and Smart Parents, Richer Kids. Log on to www.SmartParents.com.my or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.