It doesn’t matter if you have kids…or don’t. It always seems like back to school seems to bring chaos, confusion…and just a little bit of exhaustion! (okay, a lot of exhaustion).
So what are some of the things we can do to make sure this transition goes a little smoother?
If you don’t have children in school, then you’re just going to have to be patient. First things first…phone calls come a little later, and be a little more forgiving if folks arrive a little later for a meeting than planned.
Now, what to do if you DO have kids? There’s a lot of feedback on WHY everyone is exhausted, and it all holds a common theme: there’s just not enough time!
We’re all out of sorts when it comes to the new routine: getting up early, preparing breakfast AND lunch, making it through the day, after school activities, homework, family time, and bedtime. THEN, if you’re like most parents, you always like a little quiet time before you go to bed.
Anything you can do to make life a little easier will go a long way. Here are 10 tips!
- Make sure you’re shopping appropriately. If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, or you know you and the kids are late risers, pancakes and eggs take a long time to make. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a nutritious breakfast, but it’s a lot easier to make oatmeal and fruit smoothies for breakfast. Kids don’t like oatmeal? What else can you make that’s easy and quick? Then, plan out what you’re going to have for breakfast.
- Plan out school lunches a week in advance. Buy enough ahead of time and make sure it’s in the pantry or cabinet. Have school lunch boxes already packed and inside the refrigerator! That way, all you have to do in the morning is make a fresh sandwich (or whatever the main course is!). Are there options that avoid using sandwiches? Tune, crackers and cheese? The more that’s prepped the night before, the easier the mornings go.
- Pack ALL bags before going to bed and then set them by the front door so they’re easy to grab in the morning. That includes you too parents!
- As a parent, you are not only managing YOUR schedule, but you are managing several schedules…and if you’re a mom, you probably manage your schedule, your kids’ schedule, and a significant others’ schedule! Make sure you have a ‘central calendar’ in an easy to use place and write down everything on the calendar. (hockey on tuesday, ballet on wednesday, art on thursday, etc.) If your kids are old enough, review the schedule the night before, and give them responsibility to know their own schedule. As a parent, you should always know what’s going on (thank heaven for planners!) but put some responsibility on your children and ask them on Monday: okay, tell me what has to be done on Tuesday! This only instills GOOD habits for the future.
- Utilize dinner services: that doesn’t mean eating out every night! Can you make dinners a week before and freeze them? Can you take turns and give everyone a ‘dinner night’? For example, dad cooks dinner on Mondays, Mom cooks on Tuesday, Fridays is takeout night…etc. One mom I know buys groceries on Friday and then plans dinner for the rest of the week. Friday night is pizza night, and then she prepares easy to cook dinners and freezes them so all she has to do is pull the main course out of the freezer, thaw and cook! (she also uses fresh veggies and rice as side dishes to complete the meal and are easy and fast to put on the table.) It saves around a half hour to an hour a day.
- Say no. Give yourself extra time to adjust to the new routine (and it’s okay to say no to kids too!). Don’t let others place their burdens on you. It’s okay to say, “No, I don’t have time right now for that.”
- Are your kids overscheduled? This is subjective to your life, your kids, and everyone’s personal style and personalities. If your kids are busy EVERY single night, you may need to adjust. If you have several kids that have practice on different nights, work with other parents to arrange carpool.
- Get rid of the television! (challenge: could you do it permanently?) At least for a week or two, get rid of the television and limit it to weekends and record and play catch up on the weekends.
- Give yourself and extra twenty minutes. Yes. That may mean you need to get up earlier. Things happen. And if things don’t happen, what a relief it is to not have to dash! That may mean you have to eat dinner earlier and make sure you wind down a little sooner.
- On the weekends, don’t sleep in TOO late. It’s okay to sleep in, but if you normally get up at 6am on the weekdays, you shouldn’t be sleeping in until noon on a Saturday. Believe it or not, your body does get used to getting up early, and when you have a consistent ‘off’ day, it throws your routine and rhythm off. Getting up no later than 9am on a Saturday makes more sense.