Parenting | Getting ready for back to school

back-to-school-999248_1920As we fast approach the end of August, it is time to prepare both our children and ourselves for going back to school. The relaxed days and bright evenings of no homework are fewer. With only one full week to go for most, it is time to get things in place so the first week back, as well as the rest of the term, can run smoothly.

We offer ’10 ways’ to make a smooth transition from summertime to the new school year:

  1. Ask everyone, including yourself, what you need to do in the next week to be ready for the new school year. Just some general clearing and sorting can help you feel prepared for the next term, such as cleaning school bags, finding school things, sorting lunch boxes, coming up with ideas for lunch boxes, or tidying bedrooms.
  2. Talk about what you all enjoyed the most this summer and then talk about what there is to look forward to in autumn. It is easy to get a little down as summer comes to a close so talk to your children about positive happenings that await them in autumn such as birthdays, seeing more of their friends, taking part in hobbies or activities, or even just wearing nice, new school clothes.
  3. This weekend should be the last weekend of late nights to bed and relaxed routines. From Monday onwards it would be good to adopt an earlier bedtime; not necessarily the bedtime you have for school nights but close to it. Children need to get into the routine of settling down at night for bed. Enjoy some calm and relaxing family time like movie evenings or board games.
  4. You will be used to more relaxed mornings so getting children out the door in time on school mornings can cause a lot of stress. It is important to practice getting up and out early again. Set yourself some morning tasks next week like a trip to the library or park. If children get up early then they will be ready for bed earlier too.
  5. Talk with each other about what the week will be like once school is back on. Who will bring children to school and who will collect them? What will the homework plan be? Draw up a plan of afterschool activities. Plan treats every month and set clear goals and boundaries for each member of the family.
  6. Think about increasing your child’s independence by giving them more responsibilities next term. Think about what worked well last term and what didn’t. Parents need to be clear about what they can and should do for children. You cannot teach children to be responsible if you do everything for them.
  7. If you have a child starting school for the first time, take time to sit and talk with them about what to expect. Don’t overwhelm them with information as you can increase anxiety by over-talking these matters. Little and often may be best. Show them where the school is and get them to try on their uniforms if they have one. Help them to understand what their day will be like. Work with them around managing their clothes, toileting and feeding themselves. This will support them and help to build their confidence.
  8. Older children may worry that they will have forgotten everything they learned last year and could be worried about the work load coming up. Revise a little with them in a fun way. Support them to do some reading and fun learning activities. Help them to see that they haven’t forgotten and that they can brush up quickly on things they have learned by reading over old copies.
  9. For exam children talk with them about stress and recognising stress. Help them to develop coping skills from early on. Help them to learn good study techniques and be organised in their study plan. Start early, don’t leave it until the mock exams. On day one the teachers will be talking about exams so they need to be prepared.
  10. Take deep breaths and get ready for another fun filled year of learning and look forward to the Halloween break. You are a team, a family, so work together to achieve success and happiness this school year.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | 10 Ways to Settle Back into the School Routine

back to school Settling back into the school routine can be very challenging. When you are parenting school age children, the best way to make a plan is to do it together with your children. Whether is it September or another time of the year, here are some tips to support you.

  1. Call a family meeting. If you have not tried this before try not be skeptical as it can be very effective. By bringing the whole family together you are making a statement – This is our family and our issue to resolve together, which is a really good principle to parent by. If you need extra advice on how to do this, read our ’10 ways to’ run a family meeting
  2. When you have all the family in one place then make your statement – School is back on, how can we ensure a good term ahead for everyone?
  3. Ask each person to say what they need in the next term. You should expect various responses, from ‘no nagging’, to ‘not wanting homework’ to needing ‘time out with friends’. This is normal, take note of all suggestions.
  4. Once you have a list of what everyone needs, then you can start to explore if and how these needs can be met.
  5. If you have older children, maybe they can offer to help meet the needs of younger children. Such as supporting them with homework.
  6. Be sure to name your needs and be reasonable. Try to keep them very specific, e.g. “I need to know homework is done every day. “I need everyone in bed at a reasonable time.” “I need everyone to take a level of responsibility around getting ready for school in the mornings.”
  7. Agree what each person can do for themselves. “Everyone has their own alarm clock.” “Everyone makes their own sandwiches, once they are over about 7 years old. Your job is to provide the food, agree what needs to be available, but you do not have to be responsible for filling the boxes.
  8. Once you have agreed on the key principles of what everyone needs to do, allow some space and variation in how each person achieves them. If you have older children and teenagers try not to schedule every minute for them. Allow them choose when homework will be done. It is their homework. Allow them some choice around free time after school before homework starts. Allow them to choose when they eat. You can prepare dinner, but is it reasonable to expect everyone to eat at the same time? You can also agree on family time and when you schedule some time together as a family.
  9. If we try to control everything our children do, we are just setting ourselves up for failure – along with exhaustion! As parents, it is important we remember that our role is to prepare children for life. Allowing them to make choices and have some control is part of this process. If your child is never allowed to plan their own time and make reasonable choices, how will they learn? How will you know what they are capable of?
  10. Look after yourself well. In order to parent our children effectively, we must learn to parent ourselves. Take time out for you. Be creative in how you can get this time. You will have thought of many of your own needs during this process and your children are not responsible for meeting them. You need to find ways to meet them yourself. In this way you will have the patience and energy to listen, understand and engage in positive ways with your children.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to manage Homework With Primary School Children 

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Monday 7 September from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

10 Ways to Develop New Parenting Routines

Setting RoutinesA new year has arrived and with it, an ideal opportunity to explore family routines. Following consistency in routines supports parenting and increases your child’s sense of well-being and security. Last week in our weekly ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we explored how to Make Positive Parenting Changes in 2015 so this week is a good time to continue consider your family’s routines and any changes you would like to make.

  1. Think about how and why routines are useful.  Maintaining clear routines in the home supports children’s well being in many ways. Children like to know what to expect in the form of activities and behaviours. Routine helps us as parents too, and can increase harmony in the home, reduce stress and increase productivity and a sense of achievement and connection.
  2. Children usually have a very clear routine from birth around feeding, sleeping and nappy time. Sometimes as our children grow we rigidly continue with routines in these areas but often times we don’t. Think about what routines you currently follow.
  3. Explore any parts of the day when you have a good routine in place that works for all, for example, perhaps the getting to school schedule flows perfectly every morning. What does this do for you and your children? Do you find that things run smoother at these times and everyone gets on well?
  4. What happens at the times you don’t have a clear routine in place, for example, perhaps the homework routine? What impact does this have? Children and parents can get confused, frustrated or anxious when we don’t know what to expect which can lead to challenging behaviours.
  5. It is important to have consistent routines around not only eating and sleeping and practical schedules, but around behaviours also.
  6. It is your job to implement the routine, but your children need to know and understand it. Talk with children about routines and how they help. Allow them have a voice in what works and doesn’t work for them.
  7. As seasons change and children grow, routines will change too. Be open to this change. If a plan is not working, even if it used to, then stop doing it. Review it with your children, build on it and make a new plan. As the parent, ensure you follow through.
  8. Some people very much resist routine. Explore why this is the case. Think about what your child needs. Most children need security and this can often be achieved through clear routines. Following routines does not mean you have to be rigid; you can be flexible, but ensure your child knows why a change in the routine is occurring. Some children do well with change and others do not.
  9. Think about your own life, separate to being a parent. What routines are in place for you? What happens when you can’t follow the routine? Sometimes it means your needs are not met, which in turns affects how you are, how you can cope, and how you parent.
  10. Talk with your children about routines this week. What is working now and what doesn’t work so well? Agree some new routines for 2015 and then look back later in the year to see how they have hopefully helped to improve happiness and harmony in your home.

Next you might like to read 10 Ways to Develop Family Rituals and Traditions, 10 Ways to Establish a Bedtime Routine or 10 Ways to Run a Family Meeting.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Coming soon: 10 Ways to Ensure Safety When Out and About and 10 Ways to Talk With Children About Death.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on 5 January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook pageJoin in and post your questions.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email