So you’re helping your kids get on track with their new class schedule, homework and extracurricular activities and you find that YOU are struggling to get into a routine, too. The back-to-school season is also an adjustment for you!
Here’s a checklist to help grown-ups get back into the swing of things:
“Our mindset around back to school is incredibly powerful and it’s something we’re all capable of shaping in a direction that will promote resilience and empowerment,” says child and family therapist Michele Kambolis.
She addresses this concept in her book, Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety.
“Take moments throughout the day to check in with yourself. Practice self-care like deep breathing or taking a walk. Get that exercise in and take time to connect with other parents,” says Kambolis.
Get Plenty of Sleep
This may seem impossible, but as children need to get back into a regular sleep routine, so do you.
“Back to school changes are for everybody,” says Kambolis. “Make the adjustments right along side your child.”
She recommends cutting back on screen time at least an hour before going to sleep and aim for an earlier bedtime.
Get Over Being Perfect
Everyone wakes up aiming to do their best, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Some days will go well, and others won’t.
“Be ready to forgive yourself,” says parenting expert and therapist Jennifer Kolari. “The most important thing you can do is have your kids’ back and make them feel loved. It’s the anchor to social and emotional health, and learning to do that well is worth investing in.”
Plan Your Meals
Different approaches work for different families, but when it’s 6 p.m. and they’re asking what’s for dinner for the 12th time, you’ll be glad you have a plan. Choose one weekend a month to cook big batches that you can freeze for later. And always go to the grocery store with a list for the week, that way you won’t be tempted to buy what you don’t need.
Keep the pantry well stocked with pasta and canned foods and give yourselves permission to order take-out one night a week. Pizza is always a hit and usually won’t break the bank. The same planning applies to lunches. Take advantage of leftovers and get kids involved in making their own!
Streamline Your Mornings
Mornings can be chaotic! Keep the calm with what Kolari calls “morning windows.” Kids get 15 minutes for play, 15 minutes to dress, 15 minutes to eat and 15 minutes to get out the door with shoes and coat.
“Give them a two to three-minute warning that the window is closing,” says Kolari. If it closes and they haven’t done what they were supposed to do, they owe you 15 minutes later, in screen time or chores.”
By building in plenty of time, you’ll save yourself a lot of nagging.
“If there are areas where you can cut back on to make more downtime, this is the time to do it,” says Kambolis. “This is the time to be available as much as possible, emotionally and physically.”
Kambolis says making time for play and activity can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
“The key is to do it together,” she says.
Marianne Wisenthal is a lifestyle writer, digital content producer, mom and city gal living in Toronto, Ontario.