We’re just around the corner from the much anticipated return to school. Although you may be excited to have a sense of “normalcy” in your home again, you may also be dreading the amount of work it takes to get everyone ready for this new season. Experiencing both emotions simultaneously makes sense because, although a more predictable schedule is often welcome, there are so many other things to plan for and worry about in this period of transition.
To help you have a successful 23-24 school year season, here are 5 ways to start the school year strong that will carry you through.
1. Revamp Your Morning Routine!
I’m sure you’ve seen one of those articles with a title like 3 Things Successful People Do Every Morning or Morning Habits of Happy People. I’m always left wondering: Do they even have kids? If so, who helps them? Because there’s no way I could do THAT. As I work more with other mothers, I’ve learned that it’s actually not WHAT they do or even the amount of TIME they spend doing it. It’s about being intentional and purposeful with the time you do have before getting everyone else ready for the day.
Got 5 minutes? Meditate using this 1 minute mama meditation. Have 10 minutes? Journal for 5 and engage in some mindful movement for the other 5. Have 30 minutes or 1 hour? Now the possibilities are endless!
2. Create a Morning EXPERIENCE for Your Kids
Before I became a mother, I enjoyed the slowness of my morning routine. It was calm and peaceful, and allowed me to fill my cup up before embarking on my day. Then I had kids, and it became either a hectic rush to get out of the door on time with everyone’s necessities (and no meltdowns), or Battle Royale between the kids and I. It’s a problem most parents encounter at some point or another, and one that I was determined to address.
The solution? Create a morning experience that aligns with the tone you want to set for the rest of your child’s day. I want my experience to be peaceful and easy-going. For me and the needs of my family, this looks like giving my kids enough time to actually wake-up before they start their own morning routine. It looks like playing mellow oldies that I can sing along to, while focusing on one child at a time (I have a system for that!). It looks like firm boundaries and holding space for big emotions, which have gone from taking 20 minutes to pass to just a matter of minutes.
Will it work every morning? No. Will it work the first time you give it a go? Probably not. Will it get easier, set your kids up for a successful school day, and be worth it as you do this with consistency and fidelity? ABSOLUTELY!
3. Have Bag Prep Lists Easily Accessible – For ALL Family Members
Carrying the mental load for the family is HARD. There’s so much prep that goes into ensuring little ones have everything they need before they walk out the door. But there’s also a lot of follow-up that needs to occur so your older kiddos can build the executive function skills they need to be able to self-manage and get their own bag ready. Do yourself a favor and create a list of what each child needs to have, laminate it, and put it somewhere that everyone has access to.
This will come in handy when someone else has to step in, or when you pass the reins off to another family member to help manage the load. If you have older kiddos, create this list together so they can create a sense of ownership and use it to help them hold themselves accountable. BONUS TIP: Every evening and morning have your older kiddos check their list and follow it up with the question: Do you have your bag packed with everything you need from your list? By asking this, you’re putting ownership (and responsibility) on them.
4. Allow Time for Decompression at the End of the School Day
Imagine this… you’re somewhere, all day long, where you’re being told what to do most of the time and have very little autonomy. You’re told when you can and can’t use the restroom. You get hungry so you pull out a snack, and your teacher says, “No food in the classroom.” Things aren’t going great with your friends and you had no one to play with at recess or sit with at lunch. You have almost constant sensory input and your growing brain is STRUGGLING to process it all. The day ends and you just want a break, but you’re rushed off to the next activity! What’s more, when you get frustrated, someone snaps at you about being on time constraints.
WHEW! That was EXHAUSTING! It’s something that I hear parents stress about often during coaching sessions, and my question to them is, Why do you do it if it’s so stressful for the BOTH of you? In case you need permission, it’s okay to allow your children (and yourself) to have some time to decompress after a full day. They need it as much as you do. If you’re still on the fence, take some time to create an after-school schedule together. Talk about non-negotiables, what worked well last year, and what they’d like to change. I promise you’ll thank yourself for taking the time to do it!
5. Get Comfortable with Being Flexible
One of the biggest struggles for high-achieving mamas is being flexible. You’re used to routines, structure, consistency, maintaining expectations, order, etc., but motherhood as a state is anything but consistent and orderly. It is the one job where you don’t know what you’re doing all the time, and there’s no exact roadmap, which can make it a struggle when things don’t go as planned. I see you. I was you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while working coaching parents, it’s that there is a HUGE amount of freedom when we open ourselves up to being flexible.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes time, many mindset shifts, and lots of practice, but when you can learn to roll with the punches with GRACE (for both yourself AND your kids), things start to shift. The stress that once radiated out of your body starts to turn to calm, and your kids follow your lead.
If there’s one thing I want to leave you with, it’s this: you are not the same as you were last year, and neither are your kids. You’ve been growing, evolving, and making shifts that are going to ensure you’re in a better place this year than you were last year. You know your family best – and YOU GOT THIS!