Do you ever find yourself wishing you could somehow avoid the chaos of school drop-offs? With fears of potential tantrums and attempts to avoid traffic, no one would blame you! It can be a really stressful event for parents and children. Dropping your child off at school has the potential to be anxiety-inducing, particularly for younger children who are just getting acquainted with school or daycare.
With a quick search, you'll find that the internet is saturated with blogs, videos, and even apps aimed at avoiding tantrums during school drop-offs. What if the goal wasn't just a tear-free transition to school, but a daily drop-off that was meaningful? If this commute has to happen on an almost daily basis, why not make it a fun and impactful way to begin the day?
A Family Ritual
School drop-offs present a unique opportunity to construct your own family ritual. A more traditional example of a ritual might include yoga, meditation, prayer, communion, or tarot card readings. However, rituals are not inherently religious. A ritual, in essence, is a routine practice that we can turn to foster security, comfort, and connection. Because rituals are typically done with regularity or at specific intervals, they become part of our routine.
Fortunately, kids thrive with routine and predictability. Creating a ritual out of your daily commute allows you to capitalize on this time wisely, allowing you to create a deeper sense of connection to your little one(s). If you're new or skeptical with regard to creating or implementing rituals, don't worry! With just a few simple steps, you'll be well on your way to meaningful school drop-offs soon enough.
Example Components To Include
- Game plan for the day - Discuss the plans for the day with the family. It might sound something like, "I'm going to drop you off at school, get some work done, then we're all going to have dinner at home before the volleyball game." This prevents any logistical confusion about after-school activities. This clear communication gives a clear roadmap of expectations for the day.
- Music - Music is a great way to set the tone for the day! Need a pick-me-up? Turn on some sing-a-longs. Is everyone in a more mellow mood? Find an atmospheric/study playlist. Alternatively, you could take turns letting each child choose the music for that day's car ride in a rotation. This approach allows you to keep up with your kids' growing and changing interests and tastes; therein opening up a deeper sense of connection.
- Mantra/affirmation - This commute could present an opportunity to talk about values or characteristics they'd like to practice that day. Picking a mantra, a piece of religious text or a motivational phrase to share to encourage your little one(s) to remember during the day empowers parents to stress certain virtues or character-building without necessarily feeling like a lecture.
- Secret handshakes - Hugs and kisses are a very normal way to wish our kids off to school. An alternative or an addition to that could look like a secret handshake that only you and your kids know. As an added bonus, this cute ritual can be a special way to say goodbyes when kids approach the age of "mom, you're so embarrassing!"
- Keep it positive - The way adults speak has a significant impact on children. If parents start the morning by complaining about the day ahead of them, children will mimic this behavior. In fact, chronic negativity can have lifelong impacts on children. Gentle reminders to keep commute chat as positive as possible is a great exercise in trying to find gratitude more frequently.
Taking some time to think about how you can personalize your drop-off ritual can lead to a positive impact. Being intentional about how the family starts the day will assist in feeling confident and positive as they head to school.
Make It Fun
You can individualize your drop-off routines to fit the personalities and needs of your little ones. Expect that the routine might change or shift over time as the little ones grow, and that's perfectly okay. Change things up from time to time to keep your little ones engaged. Your children might bring their own ideas as well, so try to be receptive to their feedback.
The ultimate goal is to create memories by practicing presence and to take advantage of your daily commute by fostering connection. These precious minutes in the car can add up over the years. Not utilizing these daily commutes would be a missed opportunity for connection and conversation. Most importantly, have some fun. Get creative and collaborative when constructing your family drop-off rituals!