September marks the beginning of the new school year and that usually means mayhem after a long, slow summer. Here are some ways to regain a calm house and peace of mind:
1. Stay organized
The first month of school is all about getting forms filled in and completed. Cheques, signatures, medical records and immunization cards. Try to reduce the number of commitments you have this month so you can address these additional demands. Create a singular place in your home for the kids to drop off paperwork. I found an inbox on the kitchen counter worked perfectly. After all -- the kitchen is command central for the family.
2. Plan ahead
Nothing brings chaos to a family more than a kid revealing that it's their turn for carpool, when you have a client meeting at the office. CRISIS! So much of the added family stress can be eliminated if the family uses a weekly calendar as a way of keeping track of not only our commitments and plans, but every member of the family. And since plans morph all the time -- I recommend either a Post-it Dry Erase Surface or Post-it Notes Weekly Calendar that has a column for each family member to keep everyone organized for back to school.
I know, I know, you feel you keep the calm by doing everything yourself. After all, if you pack the lunches and do the laundry it will get done properly, and without a fight. However, if you spend the time to delegate these basic tasks to your children, you will gain more time for much needed parental down time and your children will gain some autonomy and life skills. Sure, it is messy for a while when they are getting the hang of things, but believe me, well worth it in the long run.
4. Pay for Services
Why run around frazzled unwilling to ask for help? If you can't get family to pitch in, outsource and pay for services. Everything from dog walking to dry cleaning pick-up can be outsourced if you have the funds. I never live too decadently myself, but I did learn that paying to have a cleaning service in when I fall behind just makes me feel so much better! Well worth the occasional splurge. Check out Molly Maid, Mr HandyMan or Google "concierge services" if you really want to get decadent!
If you know you're entering a hectic time, be sure to stay on top of your self-care. Both you and your child will benefit for practicing some basic stress busting activities: Exercising, warm baths, hot showers, yoga, meditation journalling and now even cool coloring books can help bring some calm into your life. Check out the app called "Happify" too.
6. Honour the Need for Sleep
Learning is exhausting. Even though it feels like kids learn in the classroom, the brain actually embeds the learning in the neural circuits during sleep. Sleep is also when the body heals and restores. Don't skip on your nightly quotient of sleep. Here are the recommend hours by age. No screens for 1 hour before lights out will help improve your ability to nod off, too.
7. Sick Day Planning
Children pick up all kids of illnesses (not to mention lice) at school. Rather than panic in the moment, make plans for how you will deal with the dreaded phone call from the school office. If both parents work rotate monthly who will be the person responsible for arranging care. If your month is September and the school calls, it doesn't mean you necessarily have to leave work. You can call your partner and see if they are available to skip out of work and pick up your sick child. It's your month to handle the dilemma only. You have to make the arrangements whatever they may be. Leave work yourself, see if your partner can, see if you have a neighbour, friend or grandparent to help.
8. Meet and Greet
Plan a time to have a visit as a family with each of your children's teachers. It's too busy and too late in the year to do this during parent-teacher interviews. Teachers don't have time at the door to socialize either, so instead, book a time to come in and say hello, get to know one another and express your interest in having a great year and working together, home and school.
T.T.F.T. stands for "take time for training." Pick one habit or behaviour you would like to teach your child and work on instilling only ONE habit a week. Perhaps it's the habit of insisting your child carry their own knapsack. Make this the primary discipline task for the week. Refuse to carry their bag. Remind them it is their job to do. If they refuse, simply stand by their bag and say "when you have your knapsack, I'll know your ready to go" then wait. After a week, they will come to see that you are serious and will start carrying their own bag. It takes consistency and patience -- but if you live out the week, you don't have to have that fight again!
People actually get "decision fatigue". Don't waste energy thinking about what's for dinner every night. Instead, make a meal menu schedule that can be varied slightly so you don't get too bored. For example:
Monday - egg or vegetarian ( omelette / frittatas etc.)
Tuesday - pastas ( baked / lasagna / spaghetti etc.)
Wednesday - red meat ( alternate weeks with chicken / pork / beef)
Thursday - left overs / order in / wild card day
Friday - seafood something
Heck, while your at it, make enough for two meals and freeze the other.
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