Each month, you'll be able to get answers directly from experts covering a wide range of parenting topics. You'll also have a chance to share your own expert tips with other parents. Join the conversation!
Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock are the founders of Parentopia.com and co-authors of Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, and Raise Happier Kids. Read more »
It's 11:00 at night. The start of school is in the morning. Just a few hours away. But instead of sleep, there is the tossing and the turning. The back-to-school jitters have hit full force. Is the lunch box packed? What if the teacher is mean? If the bus is late, what happens then? Where is the big pink eraser? Is thumb sucking allowed at nap time? What happens if I start to cry when I get to the classroom?
These aren't a child's thoughts we're describing here--they're a mom's or a dad's. We know parents have their own way of losing sleep before the start of school just like kids. Some of what parents worry about is real, but, like imaginary monsters under the bed, these sorts of nightmares aren't as scary if you shine a bit of light on them and face your worst fears. Here are a few of the more common nightmares parents have shared with us:
The nightmare of school supplies: Child arrives at school and discovers he or she doesn't have all of the school supplies. Guess what? This really does happen and it's really not a big deal. If your child comes home and freaks out about the missing supplies, offer reassurance that it's only human to forget and teachers expect to encounter students who may not have all of their supplies on the first day either. Normalize it. No need to leave work or abandon your errands to race back to the school and drop off a plain manila folder. Pick it up when you can and send it back to school with your child when you have it.
The nightmare of missing the school bus or waiting for the child who never appears at your front door: You may find your child gets dropped off at the wrong bus stop or accidentally gets on the wrong bus. It's also possible your child walked home with a friend, spent more time talking and lost track of time. These things happen. Schools have a policy for it. Very rarely do children in New York get on their school bus in the morning, go to school for the day, and take an afternoon bus ride home to California. If you are really concerned about it, call the school and inquire about their policy. You won't be the first person who has ever asked about it, so if it makes you feel better to know, ask. Establish rules for your walker such as calling and letting you know if they are staying later or going to a friend's house.
The nightmare of the starving child with no lunch: The lunch bell rings and a teary eyed child cries out, "I can't find my lunch box. I don't have any lunch." Schools don't want a hungry, grouchy kid in school any more than you want your child to be hungry and grouchy. Schools have extra lunches; they have extra funds for just such a situation.
What nightmares are keeping you up? Your lost kindergartner wandering the halls? Sending your first grader to school without a raincoat? Your pre-schooler not making friends? Whatever your fears may be, we're here to help you muster the courage to flip on a hall light, look behind the closet doors and banish the back-to-school boogie monster so you can get some rest before that alarm clock sounds in the morning.