Our family is just wrapping up our first week back to school. This means early mornings, two different schools and schedules, lots of paperwork and information, new routines, and fall activities. And while everything looks really good, I confess to being worn out by it all. So much “new” in just a few days. So much more to schedule and fit in after looser summer days. As parents, we take the time to help our children manage their feelings and thoughts about this brand-new school year. Yet, we often forget to give ourselves the same space and grace to adjust.
So, take a moment and have a conversation with yourself with as much kindness and encouragement as you would give your child. My conversation goes something like this, “This week has been so full. Up early, trying to help everyone get up on time, pack what they need, take a healthy lunch, be home to greet them after school, spend time just talking about their day, planning a little something special for meals or desserts to celebrate, getting everyone to bed at a reasonable hour, filling out forms, attending information meetings, thinking through activities, and all while working and keeping the house functioning. It’s a lot. It’s ok to acknowledge that. But give yourself a pat on the back for doing it. For getting up every day and doing your best to send your kids out into the world prepared with supplies, schedules, hugs and your very best wishes for a great day. Give it a few weeks and these routines will have worn grooves into the day and will seem natural. Small confusions will resolve. Move forward with intention, giving time for things to settle naturally but keeping an eye out for things that don’t. In a few weeks this will feel more comfortable and some flow will return to your day. Breathe, smile, and find the triumphs in each day.
To help with this fall adjustment, consider keeping a weekly calendar. Track commitments, activities, homework, meals, workouts – anything that you want to make time for. Seeing it in writing serves several functions. First, it helps you remember where to be. It also gives you a visual representation of how you and your family are spending their time. Is it too much? Not enough? Is there an imbalance in the activities, with one child having multiple activities and another having none? Did you carve out time for you and your needs? Start with things that you feel are “must have” activities like predictable family time, homework time, and downtime. Talk with your family about things they would like to explore and work together to see if it fits into the family schedule for the fall. Be conscious of what you commit to, so those commitments reflect the goals and passions of your family and don’t simply become time fillers. This will help you enjoy a fall with balance.