Back to school time can be a difficult transition, not only for students but for parents as well. Let’s be honest, as parents the easy breezy routine that comes with summer is a nice break from the rigid schedule that comes with the academic school year. We have to all of a sudden pack lunches, help with homework, get the kids to after school activities, all the while managing our own hectic lives. It can feel like it’s go-go-go for 10 months out of the year. To avoid the burn out feeling that can so often come with this transition, we have put together some of our favorite tips when it comes to finding better balance.
Now this may sound a little counter intuitive, but it’s truly not. We mean this in the most non-selfish way. When you put yourself first you are in actuality putting more fuel in the tank to be a better parent. One easy way of doing this is by waking up at least one hour earlier than your kids. Sound crazy? Well, studies are consistently showing that early risers are not only better planners and more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, but are also generally more optimistic and experience greater life satisfaction. We all know that mornings with kids can be chaotic and stressful, so spending that extra hour having a coffee in peace, maybe catching up on some email or reading the news can be extremely beneficial and help set a more calming and positive tone for the day.
Keep it Simple!
There is absolutely no shame in following mundane routines and schedules to make life easier during the school year. One of the ways we have incorporated this philosophy into our lives is by creating a weekly planner when it comes to lunches and dinners. The very first thing we do is prepare and cut all of our veggies and fruits on Sunday, so that they are quickly accessible for lunch snacks and things like dinner stir-fries. Another lifesaver has been creating a monthly lunch and dinner menu that stays the same for all four weeks. So for example, Monday lunches everyone in the family gets shredded chicken (left over from the night before) and cheese quesadillas, while dinner might be a quinoa and veggie salad with grilled sirloin. And so forth! The routine doesn’t allow room for any surprises or those “Shoot, what’s for dinner” moments. It also keeps the weekly grocery list consistent and easy to follow.
We also found that keeping it simple with our children’s extra-curricular activities was key. These commitments can get out of hand so quickly, so encourage them to choose a maximum of 1-2 that they would like to participate in and do your best to schedule each child’s activities simultaneously. This decreases the amount of driving around and maximizes the amount of quality time spent together as a family.
Call in the Troops
Time to get some back up and ditch the Super Hero mentality. News flash – you can’t do it all! We spend a lot of time educating people on how asking for help can be a game changer in life. Begin by examining what matters most to you, and we promise it likely wont be “getting the laundry done, or “cleaning the house”. One thing you can do is ensuring you have a line up of babysitters to call on for last minute help. There’s nothing worse than being held up at work and you are being called upon to pick up your sick child. Whether it’s your neighbor or an on call nanny, always try and have multiple people as back up who can help out in a pinch. You can also start looking at online grocery delivery services, or the occasional wash and fold laundry service. These are huge time savers that can be especially helpful with the chaos of back to school.
Carve out some ME Time
Whether it’s meditation, reading a book or hard core physical fitness that is your thing, never let that ME time slip away. This has to absolutely be a priority in your life. While your kids are doing their homework, or having some down time in front of the TV, slip away for a bit and do something for you. Setting boundaries with your children is important, if you implement these from a young age they will begin to understand and respect what you as their parent need to be happy.
Parents these days are juggling a lot and it can be hard to avoid burning the candle from both ends. Implementing some simple practical strategies can make a big difference in how you approach transition.