Keep The Peace And Stay Connected During Back To School
Depending on where you live, the back to school season is right around the corner, and it can be stressful for parents and kids alike — and the pressure to get the academic year off to a good start doesn’t give couples much time to focus on their relationships. But what can you do? After all, there are folders to buy, backpacks to pack, and new schedules to organize, and the chaos can last for weeks. With these 3 strategies, though, you can give your relationship the attention it deserves, even when covering textbooks and planning lunches is eating up all of your time.
Create A Common Routine
One reason that back to school is so hard on kids and parents alike is that it shakes up the routine. This may not seem like a big deal on the surface since summer tends to be relatively unstructured in a lot of families, but it’s a much bigger concern than you might think. Start the year right by developing a whole-family routine covering everything from breakfast to bedtime, and include grown-up time in that daily schedule. Routines help your kids develop greater independence, thereby allowing you to spend more time with your partner, even if that’s doing the dishes together or talking after the kids go to bed.
We tend to worry most about the division of childcare when the kids are little, but back to school tends to strain adult relationships precisely because it can highlight unequal sharing of domestic responsibilities. This is a good time to ensure that you’re coparenting consistently, which means jointly attending school events and conferences whenever possible, sharing in meal prep, and generally distributing responsibilities so that no one feels overextended.
The division of responsibilities doesn’t have to be perfectly 50/50, but it should reflect a shared commitment to keeping things running smoothly. Plus, working together shows your children that you’re a team, which means fewer attempts to play you off each other to try to get what they want.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Finally, as you get back into the swing of things, don’t expect perfection — from yourself, your partner, or the kids. That’s how you end up stressed and fighting. Know that things will get forgotten, that the store won’t have the right crayons, and dinner will burn, and all of that is okay. So when something goes, let it go and order takeout. As we’ve talked about before, kids are happiest when their parents are happy. Stressing about a forgotten notebook or burnt broccoli won’t make it better, but modeling distress tolerance will help in the long run.
Building a strong relationship with your partner isn’t always about date nights and back rubs. In fact, most of the time it’s about keeping it real. This back to school season, the best way to connect may just be by carrying the load together. Once you’re back in your routine, then you can start thinking about your next big date, but right now the kids need you focused on this transition, and that’s okay.