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SOUCHERAY: Iron out back-to-school transition

Can you believe the school year started yesterday? It seems nearly impossible to believe that the summer has come and gone and that we have begun another year back in the classroom. So if you had to write the familiar essay, "What I did on my summer vacation," what would you say were the highlights of the past three months?

Would you include something about how hot the summer was, with more above 90 degree days that we have had in years? Or perhaps you would include something about a trip on which you went, where you tried something new you had never done before? Or maybe you would relate something about visitors whom you have not seen in years who came to spend a week with you?

Making the transition from summer back to school is always difficult. So as our children or grandchildren, as well as ourselves, get back to the books, the schedules that demand more sleep, lunches packed, homework completed and overly-tired parents, what can we do to assist in helping this time be as smooth as possible?

To begin, being more attentive to organization will be of utmost importance. Begin with the kitchen, the room that always seems to be the hub of the home, where all the papers, picture forms and calendars will land in the next couple of days. Do you have a system for attending to all that will arrive from various backpacks, so that you will not misplace or recycle something important? Do you also have a means of communicating to your children the importance of bringing home their planners and the homework that has been assigned, preventing you from having to make an extra trip up to school after supper to gather the missing items?

Attending to adequate sleep and nutritious meals will also provide your children, as well as yourself, with the energy necessary to manage the extra stress you will have to manage. When our bodies lack the proper amount of rest, in order that our body clock can be reset, and the proper food to stabilize our sugar levels, we may find we are less tolerant and patient with children, spouses or significant others, such as teachers, neighbors or other drivers on the road. Making sure our bodies are in good working order, so we can better withstand the extra stress, is not only important, but can set the tone for the upcoming year.

Being sure to include daily exercise will also help us maintain a clear and healthy mental attitude and will help us roll with the surprises we will face on a daily basis. If you have not exercised in a while, start slowly so you do not hurt yourself. Build a little more each day and you'll find that the time you spend walking the dog or jogging with a friend brings a lightness to your step that will provide a sense of peace and fun to your life that you may have missed over the summer months.

Transitions are always a bit of a challenge for most people. They can also often take us by surprise because we are so busy paying attention to making the transition and not to how it is affecting us. Realizing that times of change affect most people in ways that they did not expect can help us move through the time more smoothly.

So after all the hustle and bustle of preparing your kids for school, take a breath. Pause and take stock of the summer and how great it was to have everyone home, but now how good it is to have the schedule and routine back in place. Sit back, close your eyes and breathe in a sense of calm that is being whisked in on the coming autumn breeze. And remember to be thankful for your wonderful kids and grandkids and for the summer you just experienced.

Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist.