For some, the start of school brings a welcome change. For others, there’s a sense of loss or grief that the kids will no longer be home or that schedules will need to go back to something more formal. Whether you are home-schooling, private schooling, public schooling, or online schooling, change is in the air.
How’s a mom to navigate these upcoming changes and stay sane?
- Personal time. It’s important to take time every day for some reflection and meditation. Spending time reading the Bible each morning grounds me and my day. It provides me with space to prepare and adjust to life for that day. Without this time in reading, some study, and prayer, I’m a mess. Perhaps it is better for you to do this later in the day or evening. Whatever works for you. The main thing is to take the time to stay grounded and step off the crazy cycle.
- Breathe. Do you remember the first day of college or university classes? The first thing you received was a syllabus for the course, listing all the tests, reading, assignments, and projects. By the end of the day, you suffered from “syllabus shock”—that overwhelming-ness of the academic load you faced.
As you get back into your fall routine, it can feel a bit like “syllabus shock.” With class assignments, volunteering, lessons of one sort or another, and extra-curricular activities, it’s important to take a step back and take a deep breath. Realize it all doesn’t have to be done at once. Break it down into manageable steps.
- Attitude Check. One of the things I learned early in motherhood is that my attitude sets the tone for my family. Not something I particularly liked, mind you, but true nonetheless. Therefore, when facing a major change, how am I, how are you going to approach that change? Learning to look for and express the positives in the change helped me.
For example, when my kids’ school changed their dress code to uniforms, we dealt with major attitude issues. Instead of focusing on the expense, loss of personal expression through clothing choices, and other negatives, we looked for the positives in this new dress code:
• Less time deciding what to wear
• Simplified clothing choices
• Everything coordinated with other pieces
No, it didn’t immediately change my kids’ attitudes about uniforms, but it sure helped me to focus on the positives. I spent less on clothing overall and no arguments about what was “appropriate” for school.
- Reality check. Today we, along with our children, have so many options from which to choose. While we’d all like to do everything, we can’t. It’s not possible. Therefore, before you even get into the fall routine, or at least as soon as possible at the beginning of the new season, decide what is realistic for you, your child, and your family.
Is it realistic to be involved in multiple sports, drama, debate, music lessons, and youth group activities? Or do you and your child need to decide what is doable for that season or quarter or semester? Maybe they play fall soccer, take piano, and attend a weekly event at church. Maybe that is too much.
If you have more than one child, look at what is possible for the whole family to handle and how that fits in with your established family values. It is realistic to say “no” to your child and yourself when the desired commitment pushes your family to the brink of exhaustion. Don’t get sucked into FOMO.
- Master Calendar. It’s impossible to be prepared when you don’t know what’s coming. In life, there are plenty of unexpected things to deal with. But your fall schedule doesn’t have to be one of those.
Take a day and, as far as you know right now, get everything on the calendar. Everything.
When my kids were all in school, I used a separate ink color for each kid. With today’s technology there are many easy ways to track this using a digital calendar. I love color coding because I can quickly glance at my calendar and identify what is up for that day and week. Develop your own system that allows you to manage your family’s activities without losing your mind. The key is to develop and maintain that master calendar. It’ll keep you sane.
- Plan your meals. Whether you plan the main family meal or every meal in detail, do what works for you. The key is to have a plan.
With your master calendar (see #5 above), you can look at the upcoming week, and see when you need to put something in a slow cooker, when you’ll be home long enough to prepare a meal, or when you can eat leftovers. Maybe even a fun family night out. Perhaps you can take time to prep your meals ahead of time, cooking them and putting them in the freezer to reheat on the designated day.
It’s not rocket science, but it will cut down on the “what’s for dinner” craziness when you have a busy day. Plus, you can go to the grocery story with a plan, get what you need, and stick to your budget.
- Simplify. When your family is involved in several different activities, not to mention school schedules, it’s important to remove anything that isn’t necessary. This is where #4 Reality Check comes in. We all have seasons in our life. You may have something you love to do, but for now participating in that loved activity will throw you into the crazy cycle. It’s okay to stop that activity for now. Someday, and probably sooner than you think, you’ll get back to it.
For instance: I LOVE to read. However, when my kids were younger, I had to stop spending hours reading novels because I was busy keeping up with them and their activities. Today, I have enough flexibility in my schedule that I can designate time to read.
- Delegate. What are you doing today that someone else in the family can do? So often, as moms, we get stuck thinking we have to do it all. That’s simply not true. While you might do the laundry and fold it, your kids can put their clothes away. Yes, you need to teach them how to do it, but they CAN do it. Purchase a different color or style of laundry basket for each child and put their clean clothes in it. They are then responsible to carry the basket to their room and put their clothes away in the time you specify. Look at what you are doing and identify those areas where you can and should delegate. Need some other ideas about what is age-appropriate for kids? Download this free guide that helped me.
- Tackle one major thing a day. When I started working full-time outside my home, I no longer had the privilege of doing all my cleaning and laundry on one day. If I chose to do that, it was always Saturday. Which wasn’t the way I desired to spend every Saturday. I found that if I planned to do one major task each evening, it was less overwhelming. My daughter is a master at this—much better than I ever was. Do one load of laundry each night. Dust one night and vacuum the next. Usually breaking down normal, repetitive chores means you’ll spend 15-30 minutes at a time instead of hours. Plus, it’s a great way to practice #8 – Delegate. Your kids can help out by doing daily chores.
- Practice Imperfection. Nobody is perfect nor will you ever be. Therefore, determine to do the best you can and leave it at that. You cannot do it all without making you and everyone around you crazy. But you can do what is most important for your family. Your relationships are more important than a “Better Homes & Garden” showplace house. Your health is more important than staying up late every night getting caught up on stuff at work. Step back and evaluate the season of life you are in. Remember, for now, some things may need to be set aside or have less importance.
Simple choices with extra-ordinary results.
What is one way you manage your home during the busy school year? Please share it in the comments below and help other moms.
Remember, capture the extraordinary in the ordinary.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.