I have always found back-to-school season to be one of the most stressful times of year. The beginning of the school year is fun and exciting, but it is emotionally and physically draining! Perhaps because I have 4 kids who are all school age, September feels like a mad scramble to make sure everyone has clothes and backpacks on their backs, healthy lunches in the backpacks, and the correct emergency cards on file in the principal’s office. It is a miracle that they even make it to school sometimes.
In light of the upcoming stress, I have compiled a few tips for getting through this period without having a nervous breakdown:
Tip #1: Set Up A Routine
I have found that setting up routines has been an amazingly useful tool for making life with kids run more smoothly. It helps prevent that frazzled feeling we sometimes get… the feeling of “I don’t know what to do/I don’t know what I’m doing/I can’t handle my life.” Discuss the morning routine with your kids in advance so they’ll know what’s expected of them. I personally get very tired of sounding like a broken record every morning (Most overused phrase in my house: “Jenna, brush your hair”). So make a morning routine list and make everyone stick to it. For dinner, I have a kids’ meal routine (chicken on Monday, pasta on Tuesday…) which really minimizes the amount of whining I hear at mealtimes. Somehow, when kids know what’s coming, they are able to tolerate it better!
Tip #2: Write Everything Down
My momAgenda has become my most trusted companion, if I do say so myself. However, I run into organizing problems sometimes, even with my momAgenda in my bag at all times. The problems come, my friends, when I forget to write things down! So my mantra has become “write everything down.” If I don’t write it down, it basically does not exist. It is in one ear and out the other. Seriously, we have so much to keep track of, with kids and jobs and husbands and homes and pets and who knows what else. How can we possibly be expected to hold little bits of information in there too? I’ve said it repeatedly but I’ll say it again: no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, just Write It Down so you won’t forget!
Tip #3: It’s OK To Say No
This is a hard one for all of us because we were raised to be “nice’ and try to make other people happy. Well, I am here to tell you that you simply must think about what your limits are. What are your priorities? What is most important to you? Write it all down. Then, when you are asked to join a committee, or to chair a club, or to hang artwork at your child’s school, look at your list of priorities. Is this task going to further your goal of focusing on what’s most important to you? If not, then say NO, without apologies. I’ll give you an example. I decided, that with 4 kids and a business, my 2 priorities are my kids and my work. I don’t have any extra time or resources. So I only volunteer at school for things that will keep me in contact with my kids (e.g. activities in the classroom). And I eliminated all my commitments that are not related to those 2 priorities: for now, it’s no more book club or any other “extracurriculars.” If you are clear on your priorities, everything will fall into place.