It happens every year: kids head back to school and, by this time, we figure we will have our routines down pat. Somehow, though, the demands of the school year sneak up on us as we juggle morning routines, after school activities, homework, additional lessons, transportation, medical appointments, sporting events and recitals, parent-teacher conferences, and running around for last-minute supplies for assignments your child forgot to tell you about until the night before the due date. It’s a lot for a family to manage! It can feel like there is so much to do that you’re left with very little quality time for your family members. We have some ideas for how to manage all of the to-do’s while also maintaining the important family time you all need.
Plan Ahead & Organize
Not everyone is built with organizational skills, but don’t worry – they can be learned! Just try one thing at a time until it becomes habit.
- Set aside time on the weekend to organize the week ahead.
- Cook large amounts of food to freeze for quick yet nutritious meals later on.
- Keep a communal calendar in the house with reminders for everyone on events coming up, shopping lists, and who is giving whom a ride to what and when.
- Consider shopping for household items online to save trips to the store and avoid those battles to keep your young one in the shopping cart.
- Lay out school and work clothes the night before.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up for Cutting Corners
Not every family meal is going to be Julia-Child-inspired. Don’t waste a speck of energy on feeling bad about opening up a few cans and calling it dinner, or picking up something quick on the way home, when needed. A lot of parents today seem to strive for perfection, but at the cost of a lot of stress, which isn’t good for you or your children. Keep in mind how much stress your efforts may cause you and try to find some middle ground. Go with what works in the reality of your day. If a quick-prep meal means you can be emotionally present with your children while you eat it together, take note of the importance of that and feel good about your decision to prioritize it.
Work Together – Lean on Others for Support
If you share parenting with a partner, or have family, friends, or a church community to reach out to, ask for and accept help from others. In a two-parent household, working together to manage the tasks and schedules of a busy family is a very beautiful thing. You’re a team and you’re working to achieve “family” together. You can also connect with other parents to negotiate carpooling to school or events, and sleep-overs for a night off. Don’t try to be just one person doing it all. Again, the stress of that can take its toll on you and your family.
Stay Connected, Present & Playful
The most important thing you can do for your children is to be there for them emotionally. When we’re stressed and busy, we can get caught up in the end result of accomplishing tasks and totally miss out on connecting with our loved ones. We may be so fixated on being on time for soccer practice that we forget to make conversation with the kids in the car on the way. These are moments filled with potential to connect, find out how their day was, learn of any struggles they are having, extend our care and love to them, remind them that they are important, and joke around with them.
Part of being able to stay connected with those you love is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Remember to work out some time to do what fills you up, as a parent, individually and with your partner, if that applies. You may have to plan ahead and set up childcare, but remind yourself that it’s worth it. That connection individually and with one another is what builds resilience for all of you as life’s challenges come your way. Lead by example and your children will learn how to manage their days, their stressors, and their relationships with themselves and others in a healthy way, too.
The Resource Specialists here at the Coalition are here to support you and your family. If you need someone to talk to, referrals to additional resources, or information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, or firstname.lastname@example.org