Back to school tips from WAY members

September 2019

In a week that sees children going back to school across the UK, we asked WAY members to share some of their tips to help widowed parents cope with the challenges of a new school year. Here are their words of wisdom…

Some WAY parents recommended sharing discreet messages or signs with your children, particularly if they’re anxious, to let them know you’re thinking about them throughout the school day…

Lisa: If they are anxious about leaving you, draw a little heart on their hand (or somewhere more discreet) and one on yours so you have a connection and reminder all day.

Susan: My son has had real problems with anxiety this year and started Year 7 this week, I’ve got us bond bracelets. They sort of look like fitbits so discreet but if you tap it, it sends a vibration to each other’s bracelet so they know you’re thinking of them or vice versa. He worries of something happening me so this has been reassuring for him.

Francesca: I got my daughter a matching necklace to my own and when she felt low she could hold it and I would know.

Jonathan: That reminds me, my late wife sometimes used to write a note on the banana skin if the kids were having a packed lunch…

Some WAY members turned to their child’s school for support and many recommended speaking to the form teacher at the start of the school year to let them know about your child’s family circumstances and to flag up any issues.

Victoria: My daughter’s school have been very supportive and I've been lucky enough to be able to go in and speak to them when I've felt really low, especially when she started reception last September. The parent support advisors in schools are generally great and it's their role to support the family in crisis or time of need.

Kirsty: The opportunity of education is such a special gift. We try to focus on the positivity of this. The kids have lost so much from their future, not being able to share milestones with their dad but a good education and a passion for learning helps provides potential for some brilliance in that future too…

Claire: I’m lucky that my kids are excited. And it’s not a real ‘first’ for us. Those going to secondary school for the first time, let them go by themselves (the anonymity was good for my boy). Those who are starting primary, my heart goes out to you, but they’ll be fine… they will.

Other WAY members shared a sense of relief that the summer holidays were over and that some sense of routine was returning. It can be tough parenting children on your own over the school holidays…

Vanessa: I'm actually looking forward to being able to concentrate on one thing rather than a million juggling balls in the air at once, and being able to finish a cup of tea while it's still hot!

Kathy: Use the time to rest if you can, get the shopping & housework done in peace while making time for a coffee and catch up with real grown ups!

Good luck to everyone who’s navigating the school run on their own this week, specially those who are doing so for the first time.

There's lots of information on the Child Bereavement UK website too.