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Six ways I’m maintaining my sanity as we transition back to school

This past week, my kiddos started school. And this Mama is feeling all the feels.

  • Nervous (and excited) as my daughter and son are in new schools (middle and high school, respectively).

  • Sad that the summer is ending…no more lazy beach days, late sunsets and weekend visits to the Cape.

  • Depressed that we’re one season closer to Winter (I know, I know, we still get to enjoy Fall and I’m already thinking about Winter).

  • Thrilled for crisp fall days, sweater weather and pumpkin everything.

  • Eager to get back into a more predictable routine, a quiet house during the day and fall sports (I love the fall soccer season, both coaching and spectating).

  • Overwhelmed by that same routine. It’s predictable, but it’s a lot.

So. Many. Emotions.


This is totally normal, but it momentarily throws me into a tailspin at times.


Can you relate?


Here’s what I’m doing to ease the transition from Summer to Fall and I’m hoping these strategies might be helpful for you too!


1. I’m giving myself grace.


The start of the school year is no joke…


-getting the kids up and out the door early

-putting in a full day of work followed by a full evening schedule

-helping with homework

-chauffeuring the kids from field to field each night for practice

-laundry (so much laundry)

-getting dinner on the table

-taking a breath in between it all


And 50 million other things I’m forgetting.


New routines take time (and practice).


It’s not like flipping a switch.


Give it time and give yourself grace in the process.


2. I’m gradually adjusting my routine.


Summer camps start later than school, so our routine has been more relaxed with later bed times and wake times. Multiply that x10 for my young teenager who has aged out of most camps and didn’t have a steady summer gig (lived his best life playing a ton of baseball, fishing at the pond and relaxing). Transitioning from this norm to the demanding schedule of the school year can be challenging for everyone in the household.


Instead of making an abrupt change, I’m easing into it.


For instance, for the first couple weeks, I’m slowly adjusting to an earlier wake-up. This sometimes means shortening my morning workout session and/or saving my walk until later in the day to get us out the door on time for school and work.


Plus, I’m not letting go of all my favorite summer activities just yet. Evening walks (sometimes around the track while my daughter is at soccer practice); outdoor dinners; and unwinding on the our screened in porch with a book or the Red Sox game.


3. I’m doing some light organizing.


I do this in spurts, 20 minutes here and there, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.


Here are some examples:


-Decluttering the big pile of mail that sits on my kitchen counter.


-Cleaning the junk drawer in the kitchen.


-Tidying up my desk area.


-Having my kids do a quick run through of their drawers to get rid of anything that no longer fits.


-Setting up my daughter’s hanging closet organizer with fall sports uniforms for easy access. I started this last Spring and it’s been a game changer (pun intended).


4. I’m doubling down on planning ahead.


Planning ahead reduces the decisions I need to make each day, thereby dialing down the stress and saving time and energy in the process. Here are few ways I’m planning ahead:


-Adding the kids’ school and sports schedules to my personal calendar. Tip: most of the Apps that the sports programs use (e.g., Sports Engine, Game Changer, Playmetrics, etc…) can sync directly to iCal or Google calendar which is a major time saver.


-Coordinating work and “home” schedules with my husband.


-Coordinating car pools with other willing parents.


-Asking my daughter to lay out her clothes the night before, so there are no last minute “fashion emergencies” in the morning.


-Planning dinners for the week and spending an hour or two on Sundays prepping some main dishes for easy reheating on busy nights*. I have a free guide and e-course to ditch the dinnertime scramble here:



5. I’m over-communicating at home.


The transition from Summer to Fall can be challenging for everyone in the household. Dialing up the communication helps. Here are some examples:


-Letting my kids know that it’s okay if they’re nervous and encouraging them to give themselves grace as they make the back-to-school transition.


-Following up with them daily with open-ended questions to create a connection and let them know I’m listening. I get side eye from my teenager, but sometimes he actually responds. Here are a few: “What was difficult about today?”; “What was one thing that went well today?”; “What surprised you today?”; and, “How can I make this easier for you?”. For that last one, sometimes I politely decline when the request is along the lines of, “You can put away my clothes and make my lunch” ;-)


-Convening quick family meetings (usually on Sunday nights after dinner), where we run through the weekly schedule and coordinate responsibilities. Setting, and managing, expectations prevent miscommunications and last-minute scrambling.


6. I’m carving out time to take care of myself:


In the busyness of the transition, it’s easy to put my own needs on the back-burner, but this usually backfires. Here’s what I’m prioritizing in terms of “self-care”:


-Strength training 20-30 minutes in the morning a few days a week (in my basement, because it saves me time versus going to a gym).


-Getting outside for at least 20 minutes a day for fresh air and a walk.


-Prepping/packing my lunch the night before, even on days I work from home so I’m not rummaging for snacks when the “hangries” hit.


-Connecting with friends, e.g., on my morning or evening commute, with my ear buds while taking a walk or in-person during our kids’ soccer practice.


-Getting into bed by 10 PM and lights out by 10:30 PM (eventually it’ll be lights out by 10 PM as my circadian clock adjusts to the new morning routine).


If you're having trouble making time for yourself, check out my ultimate {free} guide to save time and energy:



Bonus: I’m reminding myself I don’t need to do things perfectly AND I don’t need to control every situation.


Lastly, but most importantly, I’m letting go of doing things perfectly (good enough is good enough) and I’m going with the flow. Despite my best efforts, not everything will go according to plan and that's okay. I’m leaning into the controlled chaos and giving myself permission to adjust as needed. This means ordering takeout when I leave the pre-prepped dinner on the counter overnight by accident or forget to turn the crock-pot on in the morning (both true stories). There’s a happy medium between structure and flexibility, and being kind to ourselves in the process.


~


Transitioning back to school is a whirlwind of emotions, from the excitement of new beginnings to the melancholy of summer's end. Establishing a new routine amidst early morning alarms, shuttling between sports practices, and the daily dance of work and parenting, requires more than just a to-do list. By giving ourselves grace, adjusting routines gradually, organizing, planning ahead, and fostering open communication, we pave the way for an easier transition. And remembering that we don’t have to do any of it perfectly. Embracing flexibility and allowing ourselves room to adjust will help us feel better and enjoy our lives more, with less overwhelm.



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