Want some tips to help you and your kids adjust to the emotions and pressures of new schedules and experiences? Learn four key ways to ease into the new school year. 

Many of my parent coaching clients have been asking, “How do I help my kids adjust to school routines?” “What do I do if I’m feeling overwhelmed already and it’s only September?” I, too, am thinking about these questions, as I see my teens dealing with the pressures of homework, friendship changes, and the excitement and stress of a new school year.

Last week, I had an experience with one of my kids that reminded of the things I need to focus on. All of us have wisdom about what is most important within us, but it’s easy to fall back into our default patterns when we get tired, stressed, or overwhelmed. That happened to me, so I imagine it might be happening to you, too.

Here are four key ideas to create more ease in your relationships.  Try them out with your kids, no matter how young or old they are! 

Four ideas to try out this month:

  • Be present
  • Use your stress to help you become more resilient
  • Let go of your agenda and listen to your child
  • Model good self-care for your kids – it benefits everyone!

Be present

When there is a lot going on, it’s easy to get preoccupied, be on your phone, or become reactive and irritable. Your child will let you know if you are not present in a number of ways: 

  • Whining
  • Complaining
  • Acting out in unpleasant ways
  • Stirring up trouble
  • Telling you to get off your phone
  • Leaving to go seek help or solace elsewhere
  • Speaking loudly or yelling
  • Telling you directly that you’re not listening

If one or more of these behaviors is happening, take a moment to really focus on your child.  Figure out what they need or want, empathize (without guiding or fixing) and acknowledge in words how they are feeling. If you can, set aside what you were doing for a bit of time. Your pause will strengthen your child’s relationship with you, and make them more likely to be cooperative. As you practice being present, you will feel more ease in daily life. 


Sometimes just a few minutes of really listening and responding are all that are needed. Other times, a child may need more of your time to hear a story of something that happened, sit close to you, get a hug, do something together, or get support in some other way. 

Your full attention and compassion can melt away unpleasant behavior and create warm feelings of connection and love in a matter of minutes. It’s not always this easy, but it often helps a great deal. 


Use your stress to help you become more resilient

One of my children is starting at a new school this year, so we’ve been talking about what to expect, what they are worried about, and what feels exciting. I’ve been helping my child remember that excitement and anxiety can feel like the same thing in your body – shorter breaths, fluttery stomach, sweating, many thoughts swirling around one’s mind, and other sensations.

When you feel these feelings, you can say to yourself something like, “I’m ok. I’m just stressed, and these feelings will pass. What do I really need right now?” Then you can make a choice, based on what you need in that moment…calm to feel more at ease or energy to deal with the challenge. Or maybe some combination of both

CALM: Use your breath and awareness to create more peace and ease.

If these feelings of anxiety and stress are upsetting to you and you would benefit from calming down, you can use a few easy-to-remember techniques: 

  • Breathe in through your nostrils and then let your exhale be longer than your inhale. Breathing this way will cause your nervous system to calm down. 
  • Try “Box breathing” – Use your finger to draw a box on your arm as you breathe in for 3, hold your breath for 3, breathe out for 3 and then hold for 3. Make one side of the box with each step and your body will calm down.
  • Try 5,4,3,2,1 awareness with your senses. Notice 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste. This helps your body and mind relax. 


ENERGIZE: Use the stress you feel to help you bring your strengths into play. 

Years ago, I read a great book by Kelly McGonigal called The Upside of Stress, and watched her TED Talk as well. She shares scientific findings and personal experiences that show how stress can be used in very positive ways that build resilience, success, and happiness. How? When you feel stress, lean into your courage and face the stressor with a “strong heart” – courage and optimism. Seek connection with others and work together to handle the stressor. 

Try to find hope and meaning in the challenges you face by considering how you will grow, what changes you can make, and what you can create in response to the stressor. Across the globe, people who do this with both small and huge challenges are happier, more resilient, and more energetic. 

If you want great tips for helping yourself or your child move through the stress cycle, check out my blog on this topic


Let go of your agenda and listen to your child 

Letting go and trusting the wisdom of your child can be very hard to do. Last week, I had to re-learn this practice the hard way. I wanted my younger child to get bed at a reasonable hour for a 14-year old so that the rest of the week would go more smoothly. During these first days of school, I felt tired, busy and a bit anxious. So instead of asking a genuinely curious question, I spoke in a demanding bossy way to get things moving towards bedtime. Not helpful…

My younger child got upset and the whole process slowed down even further. I felt mad at myself and irritated at the situation, so I took a few deep breaths as I considered my child’s point of view. I remembered that last spring my child had made a big point of wanting to be more independent around going to bed and getting ready for the next school day. So, I decided to let go and trust that lessons would be learned from whatever choices my child made. I could bring more ease to the situation and allow life to teach. 



In the morning, my child was tired, but the positive energy between us came back as I focused on being present, warm, and supportive instead of anxious and demanding. I kept everyone moving forward in a friendly way and the day went better.  And last night, I’m happy to report that both of my teenagers chose to go to bed at a much more reasonable hour without my pushing. That won’t always be the case, but it was a sign of them appreciating their independence and my trust. 

Bear in mind that if you have younger children, you need to set them up for success by helping them to know what time it is and what needs to be done. 

Older children and teens can take on more responsibility. Then the challenge is to just give a few tips and step back so that they learn to do what they need to do to stay healthy and happy. 


Take good care of yourself so that you can parent well.

Each child is unique and has their own needs, concerns and experiences, and so do we. The most important thing we can offer is our loving presence. In order to be present for ourselves and our children, we need to take good care of ourselves. This can be as simple as taking a walk after dinner, calling a friend, sitting down to read for 10 minutes, or marveling at trees or the sky with wonder. Anything that creates a greater sense of ease and joy can be an act of self-care. Our children absorb what we do. Therefore, be conscious of modeling taking little moments for yourself in order to do what you want to do. In this way, you demonstrate positive behaviors your kids will want to replicate.



It’s easy to neglect ourselves in the interest of focusing on our kids. There are so many things we need to do at this time of year, like filling out forms, attending parent information nights, taking kids to practices and lessons, etc. Take the time to prioritize and include yourself in your priorities. As I’ve seen on some t-shirts, “If Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” This goes for moms AND dads. Our kids pick up on our energy and reflect it back to us. So pause and check in with yourself. Tired? Hungry? Lonely? Overwhelmed? Attend to your needs and your whole family benefits. You let pressure out of the family system and create greater ease and harmony.


Closing Thoughts

If you are thinking, “How can I be present, deal with all the stress, let go of my agenda, AND take care of myself?,” remember that you don’t need to do all of these things at once. Pick one idea and just focus on that for a few days. You will feel better as you pause and ground yourself with any of these strategies. Focus on what will create ease for your family. If you get another idea, try it out and see how that feels. Call me if you get stuck by sending an email or scheduling a Clarity Call. 

Need some other ideas? Check out these related Blogs: 

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Who I serve:
I coach parents from coast to coast in the US and internationally.  Thanks to Zoom, I am currently coaching parents from Boston to Seattle, Connecticut to California, as well as New York, Ohio, and Colorado. I’ve worked with parents in Bermuda, Japan, Portugal, and Canada as well. I’m grateful for these global and domestic connections!