We are in the midst of those chaotic last few weeks of school. The past couple of years have felt muted in comparison and now the rush of end of term concerts, parties, playdates and normal life activities has been both wonderful and exhausting!
For my daughters however it also means that the countdown to their last day at school is officially ticking. They have already started to take some work home, after school clubs have come to an end and goodbyes are becoming part of their everyday.
They have been through this before of course, they are all too familiar with feeling butterflies, quiet tears flowing unexpectedly, and struggling with the thought of leaving the comfort of everything they know behind for the unknown. It isn't one difficult goodbye in a single day but many last times, and many goodbyes, over many days.
What can we do as parents to make things easier? Well, there are a few tips I can pass on from our own experiences. Unfortunately you can't protect your children from feeling sad, even heartbroken, and nor should you. It is an important part of the process of accepting the changes that lay ahead.
Simple acts that can make a positive difference include -
Listening to your child. It might seem obvious but if they are telling you how sad they are that they will not see someone every day or not be able to visit somewhere they really like then never dismiss it. In their minds those people and places cannot be forgotten or replaced so help them to remember them. Take trips, take photos, create memories. Ensure them that you will help them to remember and not forget anything or anyone that they hold dear in their hearts.
Create a memory book. Over those last few days of school give your child a beautiful blank notebook/journal to take into class with them. They can ask their friends, teachers, members of staff to write a little note or favorite memory they have shared together. We started this tradition a couple of relocations ago and still to this day those memory books full of drawings, nicknames, and shared stories bring that particular chapter in time back to life. The comfort received by memories evoked and names not forgotten can be a very powerful reminder for your child that they will always carry parts of their current daily life into their next, wherever in the world that may be.
The wonder of modern technology means that we live in an age whereby we can connect with people all the time in all corners of the world. Being mindful of time zone differences(!) assure your child that they can still see and talk to their friends from afar until they meet one day in person again. It also helps to keep in touch with parents of your child's friends. The world is small and paths can cross more often than you might think. Meeting a friend that you knew in the U.S for an ice cream in France will always be special!
It is often said that we become a little bit of all the places we have lived, and I believe that to be true. We learn new languages, discover new places, try new foods, learn about different cultures and meet people from all walks of life. It is never easy saying goodbye but if you can carry into your new place to call home the traditions you have embraced, the memories shared and keep in touch with dear friends then actually, you never really have to say goodbye.
Please share any other tips you have in the comments section below.