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Back To School | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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Back to school typically means back to structure. As Moms, we tend to breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment once the kids are off to school. And, many times, we need a vacation from our vacations! So, when the kids excitedly or drudgingly go back to the classrooms, take this time to reward yourself.

I say, within the first week of school, do something for yourself… schedule a massage, mani & pedi for your nails, take a different yoga or dance class you’ve never done before or read all the inspiring stories in The Balanced Mom Magazine! Do something for you.

Not only will you and your soul enjoy the time, but it will also prepare you for the school year. I see it like a trade-off. The kids get school supplies and new shoes, while you get pampered by doing something just for you.

Here’s to the next school year! Remember to breathe, love yourself, prioritize and pick your battles.

Enjoy your Fall issue!

Cheers!

Jennifer Griner, Editor In Chief

by Emma Santizo, LCSW and Tara Farajian, LCSW

Here we are again and you are probably shopping for school supplies with your kids to get ready to start a new grade and/ or adjust to a new school. There are many transitions when kids go back to school such as, having new expectations from their new teacher(s) and meeting new friends.

However, they are not the only ones getting ready for these transitions. Mothers/parents everywhere are trying to prepare themselves for this new beginning as well.

So are you happy with back to school time and all that comes with it?

Here are some tips to help you and your family manage this time of the year:

  1. Talk to your kids to see how they feel about going back to school and if they have any concerns you want to address with them.
  2. Review with your family what you did last school year and what changes you would like to make in order for it to be more enjoyable for your child and the entire family.
  3. One or two weeks prior to your child going back to school, start setting their bedtime and wake- up routine.
  4. Have your child participate with getting their backpack ready for school and organizing specific places for their school items.
  5. Discuss your expectations of them and how that will affect what activi-
    ties they plan on participating in.
  6. Discuss and review your expectations of homework time with your kids.
  7. Discuss with them chores and your expectations of them on a daily and/or on a weekly basis.
  8. If your child is going to another school which makes it difficult for you to drop them off, start looking at your support system and see if you can coordinate with another parent to help with drop off and/or pick up.
  9. If you have more than one child and they need to use the computer to do their homework, schedule timesfor each child to use the computer.
  10. Remind your child that you love them unconditionally.

Here are a few tips for mothers to get ready for back to school time:

  1. Plan ahead by buying school materials and or clothes.
  2. Have your child pick their clothes out the night before.
  3. Discuss the school lunch menu with your child and see what days they would like home lunches.
  4. Prepare lunches the night before.
  5. Give your kids enough time to get ready for school by waking them up earlier than usual.
  6. Plan ahead and be mindful of your own schedule for that week and see what you can do to make your week less stressful. For example, gassing your car the day before, getting your brief case ready the night before, having your clothes ready the night before and maybe getting up a little early to sip on some hot coffee/tea before the kids get up.
  7. Be mindful of the voice you use when waking up the kids. Instead of yelling, be excited for them.
  8. When the kids are ready and in the car, give them a high five as a morning routine to acknowledge their help in getting ready for school.
  9. Make sure they know how much you love them every day.
  10. Make sure to treat yourself to a smoothie or something for planning ahead and making your transition back to school as smooth as possible.
  11. Enjoy!

Lastly, routine is so important to maintain a happy home so kids and parents know what is expected of them. Be involved and know what your child(ren) are learning by connecting with their teacher and helping them with homework.

Remember that schoolwork comes first before extracurricular activities and it is important not to over schedule children if they cannot get their tasks completed without losing sleep time. In addition, try to set limits in your home regarding watching television, computer, video games, cell phone usage, and other high tech gadgets. A common phrase is “square time”. Time that you allot on a daily or weekly basis as it relates to the use of electronic devices.

Finding balance as you prepare for this transition back to school is a daily event. Know what you are expecting of yourself and whether it is reasonable or even possible. Moms are always full-time moms. So, be aware of how much you are taking on and if it is too much. For example, if you want to volunteer in the classroom, but time does not permit, find another way to connect with your child and their learning. Knowing what you can and cannot do…and being ok with it is key. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. It is necessary. When you feel more balanced, your family will too.

Hold on to your pencil boxes, because the Back to School season has arrived! One of the annual activities at our house this time of year involves taking stock and stocking up. Whether it’s classroom supplies, school uniforms, or physical exams, the fall always seems to be the time to take an inventory of what we have, what we need, and what we can discard (we’ve currently got three working piles growing in our living room).

So in the spirit of taking stock, I’ve decided to put together another set of piles for the new school year. I’m calling them my family vision piles, based on the term coined by parent educators, Janis Keyser and Laura Davis. A family vision, they explain, is seeing the big picture of where you are going as a family, what values you most want to teach and model, and determining what is most important. Basically, by establishing a vision, you set-up the long-term intentions and goals for your family for the year. Here’s what my piles look like so far:

Discard Pile: Like the stained uniform shirts, and ripped 3 ring binders, what do I want to discard this year when it comes to our family?

1. The sound and quality of my voice during times of stress. This carping, droning, (dare I say nagging?) voice, usually heard in the morning rush or frenzied afternoons of homework and practices, tends to repeat itself in 5-10 second intervals, with phrases such as, “Come on!” “Hurry up!” or “Don’t forget..!” In addition to being both annoying and agitating to everyone involved, this voice and it’s shrill requests, become increasingly futile as time goes on.

2. The myth of being a perfect supermom. I’m also going to try and discard my unrealistic expectations that I can control everything and do it all. And in case I needed further motivation, two recent articles, aptly entitled, Why Women Still Can’t Have it All and Why Supermoms are Sad, confirmed that moms who expect that a work/life balance can be achieved easily (or at all), are more unhappy that those who accept that they can’t do everything, and tradeoffs will have to be made.

3. The blame and guilt I put on myself, my family, and the world in general, when life gets stressful. Like the supermom myth above, I will work to discard these negative feelings that seem to crop up whenever I am most stressed, and to replace them with compassion and forgiveness, remembering that we all are generally doing the best we can.

Add Pile: Next, what do I want to add to our family, along with the new lunch boxes and football cleats this year?

1. More interactive communication. I will make a conscious effort to add more interactive conversations with my boys and husband each week, with sentences beginning with, “What do you think of…?” “How was your…?” and “What are you feelings about…?” (as opposed to that nagging voice I hope to discard above). My goal is to stay as connected with them as possible, even when life gets hectic.

2. A weekly electronics-free time zone. This idea came to me one desperate summer afternoon in the midst of a computer game/ tv show/ web surfing binge our entire family was on. As I noticed our levels of agitation increasing with each successive sound and click coming from the machines. I desperately ordered a complete shutdown of devices for an “electronics-free” hour. And wow! After the initial caffeine-like withdrawal symptoms, a peace and calm descended upon our household that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Books were cracked open, lego towers were built, and actual conversations were initiated!

3. More time and flexibility during rush periods. Finally, in place of that supermom mindset, I will work to add more time to prepare and organize during rush hours, as well as giving myself flexibility and permission to let go when all doesn’t go smoothly (remembering that when my sons forget their water bottles or we arrive a few minutes late to practice, the world and my competence has not suddenly come to an end)!

Keep Pile: And finally, like the tried and true backpack my 11 year-old is using for his third consecutive year, what are the things I want to keep and continue in our family?

Those elements and activities that reflect our shared values of laughing together, slowing down when we can, nurturing ourselves and each other, and connecting in general.

Some, but not all, of the items in this pile will include:

  • Family mealtimes at least 2-3 times every week (hopefully more)
  • Unstructured family time, with no other commitment except hanging out
  • Family movie nights with popcorn, whenever time permits
  • Maintaining a sense of humor
  • Continuing those activities we enjoy on our own, and together, that help us stay refueled and healthy
  • Remembering an attitude of gratitude
  • Breathing in, breathing out
  • Letting go
  • Did I mention a sense of humor?

So that’s where I’m starting. Although I’m sure there will be plenty of bumps and setbacks along the way, I’m hoping that keeping my family vision in mind, will enable me to make the best decisions possible in the midst of the action-packed and frenzied moments ahead. Here’s to a happy, reflective, and intentional school year for us all!

Shaila Saint

Mindful & Empowered Parenting
Intentional Parenting
Shaila is the founder of Mindful Parent, which provides a comfortable environment for parents to interact with each other. Read more about Shaila and her mission here.