All good things must come to an end...including summer break. Kids and parents alike everywhere are mourning the end of freedom and the beginning of the new school year, which naturally includes soccer practices, parent-teacher conferences, homework, lunch packing, and endless hours in the car. Kids think it stinks for them...little do they know how much it stinks for their parents, too.
Most back-to-school guides for parents are about how to prep your kid to have a successful year ahead. This is a back-to-school guide for parents about how to prep yourselves for a successful fall while maintaining your health and sanity.
Make your health a high priority. Back to school time typically means all eyes on your kid. That shouldn’t be the case, though – you’re the conductor of this train and you both need and deserve to keep your own health in check during this stressful time. It’s tempting to sacrifice your mental and physical health just to keep your family boat afloat, but these can have serious long-term consequences that impact both your own well-being and your family’s well-being. Here are some tips within a tip (formally known as tip-ception) on prioritizing your health as a parent:
- Begin or return to a daily CBD routine. Keep some CBD oil or extra-strength soft gels by your bedside as a reminder to take some both in the morning and evening, or whatever time of day works best for you.
- Practice mindfulness. Allow yourself to unplug periodically. Create a dedicated space for meditation or mental breaks throughout the day.
- Communicate to your partner and your kids what your personal needs are. Let them know when you will be dedicating your full attention to them, and when they should give you time to yourself. They might not listen or understand...but hey, at least you tried.
Get acquainted with time blocking, if you’re not already. Use this method not only to get through your to-do list, but also to create mental space for yourself. Even if it’s only 10 minutes at a time, block periods of time to devote to yourself and your needs. Decide how you will continue to create this space once your kids are back in school, and start practicing early!
Bedtime Boot Camp - Start getting your kids to bed earlier a week or two before school starts “to practice” for the real thing. Joke’s on them because this is really to give yourself more free time for your mile-long to-do list or for a Netflix, CBD, and Chill night.
Go extreme-coupon style for school supply shopping. Maybe not “extreme” extreme. But you can still pick up some thrifty tips from value shoppers to save your bank account during school supply shopping. Check these tips and sweet deals from this krazy coupon lady.
Explore alternatives to coffee and caffeine. Sweet, sweet coffee. The nectar of the gods. The lifeblood of American society. The culprit behind wigged-out parents with some serious health problems. Everyone knows by now that too much caffeine is bad for you, but many adults still aren’t ready to face the music about their addiction. Here’s the thing, though - long-term problems from too much caffeine include insomnia, muscle tremors, anxiety, high blood pressure, and digestive issues. No thanks. There are actually some stimulating alternatives to caffeine that are much easier on the brain and body. Think carrots, chia seeds, raw cacao, and...get this, a healthy sleep schedule. That last one might just be a fantasy for you, but if you can make it happen, do it!
Get yourself and your family on a group exercise plan. Get a family membership at the YMCA or local gym. Pick one with kid-friendly classes or activities, or even just a play area to keep them busy. Block time on your family’s calendar to all go together if you can make it happen. Let the kids have fun while you get some exercise, which can serve as a physical reset and much-needed stress relief.
Set goals, but be realistic. Remember S.M.A.R.T. goals? Although it may feel more like your child’s homework than yours, it’s actually a pretty handy template to follow. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. When you find yourself lost in the school prep sauce, try using this approach to get through your to-do list. And if you find yourself unable to meet some of these goals, take a step back and look at what’s actually realistic for you. If there’s a particular reason why you can’t get something accomplished immediately, take that into consideration when setting a new goal. You can be both firm and gentle with yourself when it comes to goal-setting and accomplishing.
Let it go. Repeat after me - you’re not a bad parent if you can’t get through your to-do list every day. It’s easy for us to sit here and type up some childrearing tips from our comfy kid-free office, but we really know that parenting isn’t a joke and almost never goes according to plan. When you’ve tried your hardest and just can’t get it all done, do not beat yourself up. Take a look at what you accomplished and let yourself feel proud and fulfilled for a minute. Accept that you did your best and you served your child well. Then take a look at what you didn’t get to, and thoughtfully plan out how you would like to accomplish those tasks through the remainder of the week. And if you just can’t make something work and it doesn’t impact the safety or wellbeing of your child, just let it go. Your kid will be ok if they don’t have sparkly gel pens on their first day of school, or if you can’t make piano lessons or chess club happen this month. They might even thank you for it (but don’t hold your breath).
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