The Back to School rush is a significant stressor for many modern families. Between school supply lists, lunches, bus schedules, extra-curricular activities, and more it’s certainly one of the busiest time of year. So how does one navigate the stress and maintain a calm, cool, and collected attitude that we should be modeling for our kids as they head back to school?
The best thing you can do for your family as you begin a new school year is to anticipate any potential hiccups that could cause you additional stress as you begin a new school year. Are the kids taking the school bus for the first time? See if you can arrange a test run with the bus company or ride the city bus together from your house to the school. It’s an excellent way for your kids to get a feel for the experience ahead of time.
Are your kids attending a new school? Hop onto a local Facebook group (or start one yourself!) to introduce yourself to the community and arrange some playdates for the kids before school is back in session. Seeing a friendly face on the first day will certainly ease the transition. Whatever you can do to anticipate those big challenges along the way and mitigate the consequences will go a long way.
In addition to planning ahead, it is also a good time to create a solid organizational plan for family activities, events, and social functions. If you have two or three kids in different activities several days a week, see if you can arrange a carpool with the other parents on their team so you can take turns getting the rugrats to and from practice. Start pre-planning your weekly meals so you’re not wondering what to make for supper every night at 5pm. Get the kids to pack their lunches the night before to alleviate the madness of the morning rush. The more organized you can be as a family, the better everyone will readjust.
It is easy (maybe even preferable) in the summer months to slip into late bedtimes and lazy mornings. If the kids have been used to going to bed later and later, start adjusting bedtimes at least two weeks prior to the first school day. Start slow by moving their bedtimes back about 15 minutes each night or an hour every week. Their bodies will have time to slowly readjust to the routine and they’ll naturally start waking up earlier too. It will make those early mornings in September much less of a shock to their system!
In the last decade it seems kids are more scheduled than ever. It might be a good time to sit down as a family and decide on top priorities as far as extra-curricular activities go. Do they really need to be in dance, soccer, and volleyball? Or is there one activity that is a true passionate interest the kids could focus on? Another option is to look into rec leagues for the sports they love rather than a competitive stream. Rec leagues typically don’t have as many games and practices and focus instead on the joy of the sport itself. This might be a great compromise to still have time to enjoy many different activities with less of a time commitment.
Overall, instead of trying to do more this year, maybe it is time you think in terms of less. Prioritize as a family what feeds your soul and slowly start to rid yourself of the rest. Minimize the amount of time your family spends doing separate activities during the week. This is also a great opportunity to purge unwanted clothes, toys, sports equipment. Having an less cluttered household will help you all to feel immediately more in control of your surroundings. Embrace a minimalist attitude and everyone will appreciate what they have that much more.
What are your favourite rituals to do before school is back in session? Leave a comment below!
XO The Good Enuf Mommy
Tiffany Austin is a mom, a wife, writer, and educator living in Calgary, Canada. Tired of never feeling “good enough” as a new mom, she began The Good Enuf Mommy to encourage other moms to feel confident and empowered in their own decisions. Connect with her on Facebook to read more!