Somehow the leisurely and stress-free days of summer have come to an end and the bustle of back to school is in full swing. Advertisements for school supplies are everywhere and the feeling of change is in the air. Gone will be the long warm summer days that afford sleep ins, evening family bike rides and jumping on the trampoline under the stars. The foreboding sense of rushing and hectic mornings looms. School days always feel a bit chaotic and micro-managed, where there never seems to be enough time to properly connect and it seems a race to shuffle the kids out of the house and chauffeur them to school on time. Being a busy mom of two, a small business owner and a military spouse has afforded me a significant amount of practice in the organization and planning realm. Here are some of the tips and tricks I use to keep on track with my family and my business during this busy time. My Top 5 tips for a slightly stress-free and somewhat smooth transition back to school:
Keeping a healthy routine for my girls and myself is critical to our emotional well-being as a family. My spouse is often gone for stretches of time with the Navy. Our household depends on routine for all the cogs to turn and everyone to feel their best. As a mompreneur I need to carve out time where I can focus on work. Ensuring that my family has routine gives me the time to focus on the work I need to complete. Having a routine helps mitigate behaviour, reduce anxiety and supports children to know their boundaries and expectations. Our routine includes: specific wake up time and morning routine (getting dressed, eating breakfast, hair and teeth, shoes and jackets, off to school), after-school routine (play-clothes, afternoon snack, outside/craft time), dinner routine (set the table, clear the table), playtime (either outside/inside), bedtime routine (bath, jammies, teeth, book, bed).
Over the summer I let the kids stay up later and enjoy the warm evenings playing outside. I worry less about their sleeping routines and let them enjoy the long summer days. I started the back to school routine two weeks before the first day of school. The kids went back to their regular 7 p.m. bedtime, clothes were laid out for ease the next morning, alarms were set for their regular school get up time. This ensured they had ample time to catch up on their sleep and feel rested for the school day ahead.
3. Wake before they do
Getting up early affords me the opportunity to do the things I like to accomplish on my own. This may look different for you. I like to have a cup of HOT coffee without having to reheat it. I have time to check my work emails and complete specific business-related tasks. If time allows, I also like to do my work-out and get myself ready for the day. By taking care of myself first, I’m then able to focus on the kids without feeling distracted. I find that taking the time to focus on myself first puts me in a positive mood for the day and I don’t feel pulled between business tasks and home life.
4. Time Cues
Giving my daughters time cues is an important part of how we communicate as a family. We have a family calendar that both my girls participate in. My eldest, who can read, relies on this calendar to know ahead of time what her week entails. My youngest will go to the calendar and ask me to explain to her what activities are hers. We use time cues for all of our routines so we aren’t rushing. An example of a time cue is using the phrase “this first” and then “this next.” This lays out simple and manageable steps and tasks that kids can complete with success. For example: getting dressed, putting dirty clothes into the hamper, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, doing hair, putting on shoes and jacket and so on. A simple time cue sounds like: please get dressed first and then put your dirty clothes into the hamper next. As children get older you can build the cues as they are able to remember more tasks.
5. Back to School Clothes Shopping
Back-to-school shopping can be expensive. A smart and effective way to stretch your dollar, support our planet and get more bang for your buck is to shop consignment. Our city is chock-a-block full of fabulous consignment options for children. You’ll find lunch kids, backpacks, outerwear and all of their clothing needs for a fraction of the cost.
Candace Negm is a mother of two who finds passion and purpose in supporting Canadian entrepreneurs and curating the slow fashion movement at her boutique in Fernwood square, Thistle and Wren.