Conquer the Stress of Back to School

September for most of us is a reminder: back to school!  With that brings a lot of stress for parents. All the extra expenses of school supplies, new clothes and backpacks, getting the kids up early and out the door while still getting to work on time. Add into that the daily fights for homework, showers and bedtimes… Here are some tips for conquering the “Back to School Stress” from a mom who has survived it, 20 years in a row.

The one part of back to school that I enjoyed was the organizing. I am a nut for organizing, and although my kids were not all as enthusiastic about it, I know it made their lives a little easier.  

  • Calendar – One trick I learned was hanging a dry erase calendar in the kitchen. Each family member had a different color marker so we could track activities and appointments, then later as they grew: all the work schedules. There are apps that also will do this and share electronically to all members if that works better for you, but having everyone on board to see what is going on is great.  Often with after school activities, one parent is running around with the kids, so it’s good to be able to look to see where others may be at and when you will get home.  You can also plan in advance when you know days are going to be crazy, so plan an easy dinner or set up a carpool schedule to help.
  • School supplies – The schools have at least gotten better about giving you the list before school begins so you can bargain shop before everything is out of stock. Nothing was worse than the night after the first day of school, everyone is in the store fighting for the last 5-subject notebook.  I know when I would see deals on 1 cent notebooks or dollar store composition books I would buy them to keep for the next year. After school starts if you see the sales, pick up some extra supplies and keep a box in a closet. You will always need extra. 
  • Color coordinate – I would try to color coordinate notebooks & folders for the same subjects for each kid…green would be science, math would be blue, etc. It made it easier for them to grab in their lockers. 
  • Inbox – Have one spot in your home for all papers that you need to see and complete. If you have more than one child, perhaps a wall box with folders for each kid that they can put papers for you to sign and you can put back for them to put back into their bags.
  • Routine – Setting a routine is key to sanity. Setting the expectation with kids is also important. Each kid was different when it came to needs. Some needed more hand holding and some were very independent. So not all routines and expectations are the same. Have a time that homework needs to be done by. My oldest liked to get it done and not think about it about it but my youngest needed down time after school and was better if she did her homework later. A slower schedule, especially if you have more children, will help keep the peace. My youngest, since she was slower in getting ready in the mornings and prefered to sleep as late as possible, would be on a night shower schedule. Right after dinner she needed to get in and get it done, as she also did not like going to bed early so she would drag it out.   Finding what each child needs and how to build a structure for it will make everyone’s lives a little easier.
  • Lunches – One of my least favorite things was the lunches, so everyone knew I would make their lunch with resentment. And it showed.  Since I did not like to prepare lunches, my husband would take that role over for me. He enjoyed making their lunches special by cutting their sandwiches funny or leaving notes for them with a joke or an “I love you”.  This task did not bother him so it worked out better that he would handle that. The key here is to prep the night before instead of waiting for the morning, or delegate.
  • Communication is key – Talk about what is overwhelming you and find a solution. You don’t have to just keep feeling that way. It’s good to talk with the kids on what they can do to help you. It’s also good to talk to them to see if they are feeling overwhelmed and if there are things you can do to help them out too.  Some routines just need adjusting until everyone is in a good place. When something isn’t working, change it up.  Work as a team. There were days when I did not have the patience for the homework sit-down and my husband would take over.  Some tasks were more stressful for me than him so we would work that out.
  • Life/work balance – Set aside some time for yourself, walking with a girlfriend or going out for coffee to just have some “me” time is crucial to the life/work balance. Because let’s face it, being a mom is a full time job so you have to make sure you give yourself time to yourself.

I don’t miss the days of the busy school mornings, shooting like a drill sergeant every morning, get up, get dress, get your shoes on, get your lunch, grab your backpack…lets go out the door. 

September, as I see it, is a time to get back to a schedule. Even though my kids are all adults, I still look forward to getting organized and back on a routine again. We are more than half way through the year, we just made it through the summer. Time to regroup and focus.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Sticky Note

by: Danielle Ternyila

A brief reminder hanging on the door has really saved the day a number of times for myself, and there is no shame in the sticky note game! But do you use these to the fullest to continue motivating you and keep you on track for your goals? If not, you should consider putting pen to the pad and writing down your goal right now.

There is something to be said for putting pen to paper when it comes to your goals. It makes it feel real, and when you have that reminder to drop 10 lbs before Christmas hanging on the fridge or that you are stronger than you believe taped next to your coffee pot, you are doing yourself the favor of being your own accountability buddy.

I use sticky notes to keep me on track with my goals, and they’re actually so helpful. Sometimes I make challenges for myself, like I want to plank every day for a month. I’ll stick the note right next to my light switch as a reminder to get it done. It’s also the perfect place because it’s guaranteed I’ll be standing up and walking away from something else when I see it, and so I’m usually able to take a minute and get down to do it before I head out.

I keep these little notes in places where I will not only see them but also most likely in a time when I will be able to fill through on the call to action. Reminder to buy more dog food on the front door, a note to listen to a new podcast I heard of hanging on my purse for my next car ride, or that little yellow paper can sometimes be found next to the TV remote telling me to get up and drink some water!

These notes don’t always have to be bulleted items that you need to get done. I’ll hang them here and there with words of affirmation, motivational quotes, my goals, and other things that keep me going throughout the day or week. I have one up in the kitchen as we speak reminding me of an upcoming wefigs in 8 weeks and a beautiful dress in my closet that I hope fits. Keeping this note where I can see it in the kitchen every day ensures I am always keeping my goals in mind, especially when I enter the kitchen because that can sometimes be my biggest weakness. I update it weekly with the next countdown too, so I never get tired of seeing the same thing.

Do you leave yourself reminders or words of affirmation on sticky notes? You can use these to help create healthy habits, concentrate on what’s most important to you, and boost your self esteem. Leave yourself a note on the bathroom mirror with a new inspirational quote, or tape one up by your night stand to remind you to do self care and relax properly before bed. “Future You” will appreciate the reminder and thoughtfulness!

If you want to take your notes a step further, check out our Inspired corner where you can find a few different printable sheets to keep you on track for maintaining your goals! I use these and even make up my own with a piece of printer paper and a pen. During my weightloss journey, my favorite tool was coloring in circles for every pound I lost. It made it fun, and it was great to see a visual display of my accomplishments taped onto my dresser I go in every day.