It’s the fall season, and that means the lazy days of summer are over — and back to school chaos is in. Endless supply lists, deadlines, and meetings to remember can cut into regular priorities, especially self-care. It’s normal to feel stressed about juggling everything your kids need to do well in school and getting back into the school year routine. But self-care can help you manage stress and not feel so overwhelmed.
Feeling In Over Your Head? Admit It
Back to school is tough. If you’re struggling, don’t try to sweep your struggles under the rug. Admit to yourself that it’s hard to keep up — and then figure out what you need to do to manage it.
A major source of stress during back to school time is scheduling. It can be difficult to stay on top of all the places you need to be and the math nights you plan to attend. Keeping a calendar for your entire family can make it easier to visualize how it all comes together. Ideally, you can keep it in an area where everyone can see, and encourage your family to keep track of where they need to be.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Encourage kids to take on their own responsibilities as much as their age and ability allows. For example, elementary schoolers may be ready to pack their own lunch, or at least help pick out what they want to eat. High schoolers could potentially handle their own transportation.
Find Pockets of Time
When you’re managing the back to school needs for your family, it’s easy to feel like you don’t even have five minutes to yourself. Think about your day and when you might be able to squeeze in some time — even if it really is just five minutes.
Could you stop off at the park for a quick workout or meditation after school drop off? Maybe instead of heading home after you pick the kids up from school, you can take them to a play gym where they’re occupied — and you can sit alone and read or catch up with a friend on the phone. Or, could you find a gym with childcare, so you’ll be able to drop the kids off while you take time to work out and take care of yourself?
Make Self Care Part of Your Bedtime Routine
Nighttime can be the hardest part of the day for parents, as you’re wrapping up the demands of the day and shuffling kids off to bed on time. Resist the urge to catch up on chores or just fall into bed exhausted, and instead, take at least a few minutes to take care of yourself. Take a warm bath, even if it’s brief, listen to music, read a book, or do a quick yoga session to take the edge off of the day, calm down, and reflect inward.
Everyone Benefits From Self Care
Remember that you can’t draw from an empty well. If you push yourself too hard and neglect self-care, you could struggle to be there for your family physically or mentally. Take time to take care of yourself, and you can give your family the best version of yourself — no matter what the demands of the school year may bring.
Susan Austin is a family research specialist with Family Living Today. A mother of three and small business owner in Texas, Austin spends her days juggling work and family life — sometimes expertly, sometimes not.