A few weeks ago I experienced the Back-to-School transition, only this time from a mother’s standpoint. My three-and-a-half year old started two new pre-schools, and my daughter got to spend time with a brand new babysitter. I use the word transition lightly, because that week was really one of the most challenging weeks of motherhood to date – and I wasn’t prepared for it.
I simply wasn’t ready for the challenges that this time of year brings – everything from separation anxiety to school supplies I forgot to purchase to the morning traffic. I held onto a false impression that this whole back-to-school thing would immediately mean more time for me to do, well, anything: write, cook, clean, take yoga, teach yoga, work at my studio. Instead, I found myself just trying to get my feet underneath me and survive while dreams of evening yoga classes danced their way out of my reality.
Now, just about two weeks into the new routine and there are five strategies I will be prepared to implement before next year’s back-to-school transition. And the great thing is that it’s not too late to use these tips NOW. In fact, I have a feeling they’ll work for the entire school year, thank goodness! These strategies lend themselves well to maintaining a household that’s only slightly less chaotic than it could be ?
Without further ado, here are five life-saving strategies that have helped me beat the back-to-school blues:
- Grocery Delivery
After the first week of school, I found myself needing groceries but dreading the crazy parking lots. I didn’t know if I would have an hour or so to even fit the shopping in, but then I remembered my own mother suggesting time and time again that I ought to look into grocery delivery. And I honestly don’t know why I waited so long! Perhaps I felt a little guilty, like I should be able to fit in the weekly shopping. But I’ve come to believe that if there’s a service out there that makes something easier on a busy family (or anyone!) why not take advantage? So at 11pm last Saturday night, I sat down at my computer, checked out a grocery delivery service for the first time (I used Pea Pod) and ordered every grocery item I needed. I could choose a two hour window the following day where a driver would deliver my items. All for a $7 delivery fee. Seven. Dollars. That’s it! Plus tip. Pea Pod says tips aren’t necessary, but c’mon. These guys are working so hard, all weekend, so I don’t have to. And you know what’s crazy? Even with the delivery fee and tip I still ended up spending about $40 less on my full shopping by using this service. The only thing I can attribute that to is that I had zero impulse buys. I’m strictly working off my list, not tempted by anything. Even if you don’t make this part of your weekly routine, at least utilizing this service during the back-to-school insanity will be wildly helpful.
- Have Snacks Ready
While I’m on the subject of food, I realized in hindsight I had been about ten minutes late to every snack and meal time. I didn’t have healthy stuff prepared, I was thinking, “what’s for dinner,” when I should have been preparing it, and my crew got hungry and cranky fast. I now have cabinets full of tasty, healthy stuff, and I even pick my son up from a few of his programs with some of his favorite snacks on hand. Raisins, rice cakes with peanut butter and honey, and string cheese have been my go-to’s.
- Lower Expectations
Maybe “lower” isn’t exactly the right word, but it would have served me well if I could keep my expectations in check. If I had been expecting a few tough drop-offs or feeling emotional myself, those feelings wouldn’t have caught me so off guard. Back-to-school brings lots of intense emotions and behaviors from kids and adults alike, so realizing that bumps in the road may occur will help you maneuver them with ease and grace.
- Early Bedtime
The stimulation of being with new people, different kids, and a more structured routine wiped us all out! Shorter days lend themselves to earlier bedtimes, so we are taking advantage of the fleeting daylight. Sometimes after bath time we reaaaallllly let the kids drag out the routine. We play, read, get a second wind and, well, it’s downhill from there. Now I am realizing that a short and sweet routine gets everyone tucked in seamlessly. (Well, as seamlessly as possible!) All in all though, after a few days of significantly earlier bedtimes for the kids, we all felt well-rested.
- When In Doubt, Sweat It Out
One thing that was totally lacking during my challenging back-to-school week was my own exercise routine. I fully admit that I did not walk the walk of the talk I always talk. Self-care is the best way to ensure that you’re able to take care of all of the other responsibilities in your life. It’s kind like putting on your own oxygen mask first, you know? Now I know that when I have a busy week ahead, I will literally schedule in the times that I can exercise. Sweating keeps your mind sharp and your body loose, which is exactly what’s needed for a busy mom during back-to-school time.
While challenges undoubtedly lay ahead with two kids, one on the way, and a busy school year, I know I will be turning to these strategies to help me through!