School is just underway but many families are already feeling the tug of a busy calendar. Projects, homework, activities, and sports … all on top of the necessary routines of home life – chores, meals, laundry – become a fast-paced cycle, with little quality down time. Both parents and children can feel stressed when surrounded by the sheer chaos. So, how can families make sure to maintain “attachment” during the school year and stay connected to one another?
Establish Firm Routines
Having order in the household is very important for the mental health of all family members. If a parent is upset because papers are scattered over the dining room table when supper is ready, but there is no routine set for where to do homework, the child will be frustrated and upset as well. If a young child is hard to wake in the morning because they do not have a fixed bedtime routine, parents will be irritable about being late—again. Children are naturally drawn to order, but most are not able to create efficient routines themselves. Sitting down as a family and finding routines that work best for you creates a calm atmosphere in the house, and is reassuring to children of all ages.
When in Doubt, Throw It OUT
There is not an intuitive correlation between decluttering and family attachment, but typically less stuff = better family time. If you cannot play a game or a do a puzzle with your child because their room/the family room/the dining room is overrun with toys, books, and papers, the stress level will go up as attachment goes down.
Thankfully, there are numerous systems available to help families declutter, and with some research and experimenting most families find a great fit. If you have a difficult time parting with your child’s school work or art work, taking advantage of digital galleries is a wonderful way to preserve it without the paper clutter. Decluttering is also a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about organizations that give back to the community, and how their gently-loved toys and clothes can help another family.
Simplify Meal Time
Meal planning has been huge life saver in my household. Doing meal prep on Sunday afternoons and using kitchen accessories like a programmable pressure cooker have saved me tons of time and significantly reduced my stress level (as well as prevented many last-minute runs to get fast food). By planning ahead and allowing for meals together — at home — parents are able to focus on connecting with their children after a long day. It’s also important to “unplug” and prevent the use of cell phones and other devices while at the table so you can facilitate better conversation, and devote your attention to each other.
Set Aside a Day of Rest
Even if your family does not belong to a faith that requires a Sabbath, you can implement your own with the rituals that will serve your family best. Having a standard “day off” of homework or housework can do wonders for the spirit, especially if your usual routine has helped make sure those things are done before your sabbatical from work. This does require some planning and checking in with your child to make sure there is not a forgotten project or assignment lingering, but taking one day completely free from work each week opens up all kinds of possibilities for family adventures. Hiking, biking, going to a park, or just snuggling to read without feeling like you need to do “just one” load of laundry can help you feel relaxed and in-tune with your child—a rare gift during the school year.
Kathryn Mahoney is the Founder and Lead Guide of Compass Star Montessori, which was established in 2009. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Kathryn has been a part of the Wichita community since 1989. As a child of a Montessori school herself, Kathryn was passionate about bringing the authentic Montessori Method to area families through a credentialed program. In 2010, she earned certification as a teacher and head of school with the American Montessori Society (AMS), and Compass Star Montessori was granted full membership in AMS.
Compass Star Montessori offers curriculum for children ages 5-12 years, based on the premise of guiding and following the child. The methods are designed to nurture the learning strengths of each child, cultivating independence and confidence.
School is a wonderful place, full of possibilities, and Kathryn wants to help your child be excited about learning. If you are interested in learning more about Compass Star or scheduling a tour of the facility, please feel free to contact Kathryn directly at 316-213-2253 or visit csmontessoriwichita.com.