New uniform, new shoes, new books, new class, new school. January is a month that is fraught with a lot of expectations when it comes to school. A new year signifies a fresh start, a new beginning and with this start comes the desires for new things and a new way to do things. Most parents come into January in a dazed and almost surprised approach. January comes after every 11th month so it is possible to plan for it and to mitigate the resulting anxiety. However Kenyans being Kenyans, we like to let things hang undone until the last possible minute. The danger then is that there is pressure to get everything done at once. This is evident in the rush at the bookshops, supermarkets and on the roads as people do the ‘last minute dash’ to acquire all the things that are required.
- How can we best manage the resulting anxiety of this and avoid falling getting caught up in the January madness? Plan- January will be back in another 11 months. Look at your family and plan where you expect your children to be in the next 11 months and plan yourself accordingly. Make a rough estimate of what your financial expenses will be in relation to school and draw up a budget. Divide the expenses into 10 months or 44 weeks and save a specific amount each month. This will ensure your January is less financially stressful
2. Quality Time- Spend quality time with your children daily or weekly depending on your schedule. Use this time to find out what is going on in your children’s lives and how they are adjusting to the newness of school, class and expectations and demands on them. For this interaction to be effective, plan to do a fun activity as you bond with your kids. This works to assure them that you are not only interested in their welfare but that you love them.
3. Rituals- Come up with rituals that help you organize and manage your time better as a family. This also helps the children start learning skills that they can put into good use as they grow. The rituals or new behaviour give order in an otherwise chaotic existence. Start small and add on to these as the family takes them up. E.g: set specific time to be spent on technology (phones, tabs, tv), assign tasks to individual members (tidying up, making bed, cleaning car), family time, social time, sleeping time. Come up with interesting ways to reward behaviour that is followed and applied as discussed.
4. Gratitude Time- Come up with a gratitude time, this is time when each member of the family shares things that they are grateful for that happened during the day or the week. This allows each member to shift focus from the difficult situations and focus on what is working. This has the power to lift moods and improve general outlook on life.
Above all, keep smiling and know that even January will come to pass!