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Back To School Style & The After-School Restraint Collapse

Thank you to Walmart for partnering with my family on this post and to my readers for supporting my blog. All products, purchases and reviews are of my own.

Next week Thomas will be heading to Kindergarten and Caroline will be starting 2nd grade! We are so excited for our kids to once again be at the same school, ride the bus together and see each other in the halls and on the playground!

To get ready for the new school year we’ve stocked up on supplies, clothes, backpacks and lunchboxes from Walmart! Each year my favorite clothing item to stock up on from Walmart for Thomas are the polos!!! The quality is SO good and they are only a few dollars each! At the beginning of the school year I always get about 10 polo shirts in an assortment of colors and then add a fun monogram. Walmart also carries our favorite flat front khaki shorts. They go with everything!

Boys Polo Shirts
Boys Flat Front Shorts

Caroline spent a LOT of time picking out the perfect backpack and lunch box this year and she was ecstatic when all her items arrived! Her new outfit is SO cute but I swear she looks like she’s going into the fifth grade in it.

Caroline’s Back to School Picks
Thomas’s Back to School Picks

The After-School Restraint Collapse

OK, for mamas with Kindergartners (or kids starting daycare or ANY new grade), I wanted to share a little bit about after-school restraint collapse in case any of you experience this with your kid(s) and are wondering what in the heck is happening. A few months after starting Kindergarten, Caroline began coming home highly emotional and would easily explode into tears over little things like putting on a jacket, doing her homework (which she loves), learning what’s for dinner, taking a bath, etc. This behavior was so uncharacteristic for her and Matt and I were desperate to figure out what our sweet girl was going through. No matter how much sleep she got she would arrive home absolutely exhausted and would crumble on a dime into a million pieces for absolutely no reason. Finally, we had a breakthrough when another mama shared the “after-school restrain collapse” with me.

So you know how when your kids go to daycare or to a friend’s house for a play date and the mom or teacher raves about how great they are? Our kids hold it together all day trying to meet expectations, manage challenges and be “good.” Then they run out of energy and release all their true emotions when they get to a safe place (ex: home!). And I mean, I get it! I am “on” all day long too talking to my attorneys and colleagues…so when I close my laptop for the day I feel like I can finally decompress and turn off. And unfortunately, sometimes that may look like I’m grumpy or tired or short fused because I feel safe to let my guard down in my home. For kids, they may become weepy, throw tantrums, be unreasonable, disrespectful or mean to their siblings. And in my research I learned that the after-school restraint collapse is even more intense for sensitive kids (ahem, Caroline). The good news is that it’s temporary and should subside as your babe fully adjusts to the change in environment and schedule.

So what are you supposed to do to get though those first few months? The best advice I found on this is to find a decompression strategy that works for your kid, make room for their tantrum and validate their emotions. For Caroline, during the summer months we would take family bike rides together after school. And once it got cold, she really loved taking a long bath with “special bubbles” while watching a show on my iPad. And when she fell to pieces we would give her a big hug and tell her “We got you, baby girl! You had a long day! It’s OK to let out that exhaustion and relax for a bit!” And after a few months she was emotionally collapsing less and less. I hope this helps you mamas with kids heading to the next grade, a new school or a new routine.

Wishing you the best school year ahead!

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Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Thanks for this! We are 3 weeks into kinder and are definitely in the throes of it right now. She is super sensitive and never has had a behavior issue! I feel like we’ve been put through the ringer! I’m gonna let my husband read this too! Thank you!


Thursday 19th of August 2021

Such a long day for our kiddos -- especially in K!! It gets better!! Wishing y'all a happy and healthy school year! xo

Anne Obermiller

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

As a kindergarten teacher, I always warned parents about the after school difficulties. My suggestion was a protein snack and 30 minutes of quiet or exercise. Keeping it together all day is hard for children and teachers. Have an awesome school year! 🚌🚌


Tuesday 17th of August 2021

This is such good advice! Thank you for sharing! Have a great school year! xo


Tuesday 17th of August 2021

Thank you for sharing this! I have an older child, 14 and we still remember "kindergarten tired" as we called it. He was a different child and he had been in daycare so I was just perplexed why he was so tired. I love your advice and will use it as our girl starts K next week!


Tuesday 17th of August 2021

YES! I was so caught off guard by the "Kindergarten Tired" since it took a few months to set in and I figured she would adjust OK since she was in full day daycare her entire life! No one warned me! haha