How To Have A More Sane School Year

As parents in the workplace, there is a collective sigh as school buses roll and summer becomes a distant memory. While the past couple of months have had moments of high intensity preparing for vacations, family activities, and arranging child care, the constant pace of school was absent. With August here, the tsunami of lunch prep, homework, school events, and extracurricular activities is ready to crash into your already overloaded work schedule.  Feeling sleep deprived yet?

This change in season doesn’t have to be so stressful. By taking a few well-planned steps both at home and work, you can set the stage for a school year that is more enjoyable for both you and your students. Some ideas include:

At Home

Be the ringmaster of your morning circus.
We so often focus on the need for a physically healthy start to the day like eating a wholesome breakfast. Think about the value of a positive mental start to their (and your) day. Create routines that leave each of you ready to leave the house and take your best self to work or school.

Create dedicated spaces.
In the kitchen, create a place where all school lunch related items are stored and can be retrieved by all ages. Have designated spots for book bags and school books. Teach (and expect) all members of the family to use these spaces accordingly.

Lighten the load of meal prep.
Carve out time on the weekend to plan all evening meals for the week and purchase all ingredients. Stop wasting so much mental energy during the week wondering what you’re going to prepare for dinner. Get children involved where appropriate so you aren’t isolating yourself so much from your family. Keep the meals simple. Leave creativity for the weekend.

Identify the non-essentials.
Is keeping your lawn meticulously manicured or your house spotless really that important? Isn’t time with your children and your spouse a higher priority? If you can involve them in the task, great. If not, let these things go until a later time.

Plan time with each family member each day.
It may only be 15 minutes, but proactively think about something you can do with them one on one. It’s hard to focus at work when you are feeling guilt about not spending quality time with your children or spouse.

Give everyone something to look forward to at the end of the day.
It might be the evening meal, a dessert, or just a few minutes doing something together. My family might play a card game, watch an I Love Lucy episode or just a humorous You Tube video. The key is choosing something everyone will enjoy together.

At Work

Get everything on your calendar.
Having to explain to your boss that you’ll miss the meeting because you forgot your child had an event at school is always uncomfortable. Make it your mission to get every possible date you might be out of work on your calendar. Ask teachers, administrators, and coaches to provide you with event dates. Don’t be afraid of asking periodically in case they forgot to update you. Remember, it’s your sanity we’re talking about.

Have a wing man (or woman).
Always have one coworker who knows where you keep everything-physically and digitally. They should also be up to speed on your current progress with any assignment. If you have to be out of work because of your child is sick, or any other reason, the work of others who depend on you won’t grind to a halt.

Stop feeling guilty about occasionally spending extra time at work.
Have contingency plans in place for child care, meals, and transportation. Your family knows your work is important to you and will support your extra effort, especially if they know you’ve already thought about their needs in advance.

Finally, take a few moments to reflect on the joys of being a parent. It’s so easy to be doing as a parent that we forget to simply be in the moment. The mental and emotional boost that comes from a hug, smile, or laugh may be just what you need to make it through another busy day.

Children are the only investment we raise to lose.

For more tips on maintaining your work/life satisfaction during the school year, download my Back To School Checklist.