It’s time for parents to start changing gears and prepare for the fall. There’s so much to do! So, first, take a deep breath. Good. Now repeat after me: “I can get everything done at a reasonable pace and we’ll have the best fall ever!” (Rinse and repeat as often as needed to stay sane.)
Follow these 6 guidelines to decrease your stress levels and get organized for back-to-school season:
1. Focus on the positive. It’s important to start with your mindset. The school season will be more fun and pleasant if you help set the tone. Kids love summer. Many of us do. It reminds us of our carefree childhood days in warm weather. We’re barbecuing with neighbors, playing at the beach, and there’s no shortage of outdoor fun to be had. But, things are going to change. A mother’s mood is the thermostat of the household. She affects all household members—even the dog. Start the transition process with a positive attitude, and you will have a happier home.
You can harness your ability to influence the home and use it for good! Start talking about the exciting things coming in the fall. Intentionally talk about the fun activities they’ll be doing. They may not be “signed up” for anything, but there’s always something to look forward to (brightly colored trees, a trip to the apple orchard, late night bonfires). According to a recent article about positive thinking, “Segerstrom and Sephton (2010) also examined whether optimism predicted positive affect. Their hypothesis that changes in optimism would predict changes in positive affect was borne out, as increases in optimism were associated with increased positive affect, and vice versa. Interestingly, changes in optimism were not related to changes in negative affect. Thus, it appears that optimism is uniquely related to positive affect.” Stay focused on the good that lies ahead as you tackle the following steps.
2. Dominate your calendar. Let me begin by saying there is no “right” way to manage your calendar. There are digital people and there are paper people. If you have a system that works for you, go with it. Quit second guessing yourself. We’re all unique and what works for some of us, may not work for others. It’s important to have a schedule and plan as best as you can to eliminate stress. Take the time to write down every single activity on your schedule. Post your family calendar in a public place or use an app to share calendars so everyone knows what’s happening. It’s helpful to color code the various activities if you have more than one child. Start a list of carpool friends and look ahead for conflicts so you can reach out ahead of time. No parent likes to be informed of tomorrow’s choir concert that you need to go out and buy a new pair of pants for, in addition to having something else scheduled that same night.
3. Coordinate Dependencies. After you feel confident in your calendar, you can determine what needs to get done. Your daughter starts soccer in two weeks, so you need to try on last year’s cleats and potentially buy new ones. Your kids have games that coincide on the same night, so you need to make sure everyone has a ride. You get the picture. There are a lot of balls in the air for parents these days. By planning ahead, you will decrease stress and make all activities more enjoyable for everyone.
4. Purchase school supplies early. Schools mail out lists ahead of time, but you can also find them online before you receive the school notice, so YOU can decide when to shop. Getting an early jump on this is another stress reducer. Busy moms have a low threshold when it comes to running to three different stores to find the required calculator the night before school starts. Because stores sell out, it’s best to get the shopping done as early as possible to make the least amount of stops. Reflect on your previous shopping experience. If you went all together as a family and it was a fun night, great. Rinse and repeat. If not, try a new strategy. Take one kid at a time and make it a “date” night with a special treat at the end. (This is a good time to throw in those positive fall thoughts again.)
5. Gently adjust sleep schedules. Many kids have been sleeping in and enjoying the lazy days of summer. Fall is typically more structured, and therefore can make for a rude awakening that first day of school when we wake up three hours earlier than we’re used to. Yikes! Help your kids gently adjust by reintroducing an earlier bedtime and having them get up earlier the week or two before. Our bodies have amazing clocks that can work for us or against us. Retrain their bodies gently by waking them up 15 minutes earlier each day. It’s kind of like giving up caffeine. If you decrease your quantity, your body doesn’t notice when it’s completely eliminated, but if you quit “cold turkey” you’re likely to have a whopper of a headache. Doing this one simple step will help you have a positive and smooth transition into fall.
6. Add cushion and grace to your schedule. As much as possible add some cushion into your schedule. Don’t overcommit money or time until you’re sure you can take it on. As activities and the school year gear up, it takes us all awhile to adjust to the new schedule. Be patient with yourself and your family. After a few weeks you will all most likely hit your groove with the sweet memories of summer in your rearview mirror.
With a little bit of planning, focus, and organizing you can ensure that your transition into school and fall activities will be a smashing success!
It’s that time of year when stores have flashy “Back to School” signs with big arrows leading you to the freshly minted school supplies. Schools start sending paperwork and forms to fill out for the upcoming school year, and even a few leaves are starting to change color amidst the 80-degree days. For many parents it’s a bittersweet time. They’ve enjoyed having more time to spend with their children and living at a slower pace, but alas, the school bells call and there is knowledge to be gained!