Back to school means “back to business as usual” for many of us–whether you have school-age kids or not! During summer, we all tend to embrace a subtle circadian shift to allow for more daylight, relaxed schedules, and well…fun! But suddenly in September, the shift back to a typical schedule seems drastic as we are swept up in the back to school rush.
In addition to our new, usually busier fall routines, we can find ourselves bombarded with messages of impending change, which circulate in advertisments, the media, and of course schools. That’s because after New Year’s, September is one of the most popular start dates for making positive changes! But when you ride the wave of popular change, sometimes you can get carried away with goal setting and expect too much of yourself.
Simply put, don’t do that! It sets you up for failure!
If you want to really crush the back to school rush, and be able to sustain any changes without becoming overwhelmed, plan ahead and be realistic!
I’m sharing FOUR simple ways I’m planning ahead to crush it–as an often distracted, sometimes overwhelmed, work-at-home parent of school-age kids–in case it helps you.
#1: My kids are packing their own lunches in the evening.
Back to school is synomonous with the dreaded task of packing lunches, am I right? So, ahhh, what a relief, my kids are now doing it for themselves! And honestly, they are really enjoying it, even my youngest, who is six.
We are entering “year 4” of using these bento lunch boxes from Yumbox. Each section serves as a template for packing lunches, which makes it easy. (They are a little small for older kids, so we usually also add some popcorn, pretzels, or crackers in a small separate container.) They really hold up, which makes them more economical (and you save by not buying pre-packaged items, which is also “green”!) There are many other bento-style boxes, but these are my favorite because they are leak proof between each section, which is harder to find. Yes, this matters! Because if juicy fruit leaks on bread or crackers, then your well-planned healthy lunch is ruined! That’s a preventable Mom fail…
#2: I am meal planning on Sunday (or Monday) and shopping once for at least 4 dinner meals at a time.
I need to get back to well-planned, easy weeknight meals, but still keep them homemade and healthy. And I really need to waste less time shopping. Honestly, I found myself in the store EVERY DAY the last week of summer. Each time I was annoyed at how slow the cashiers were and really it’s my own fault for not sitting down for a few minutes and planning ahead to avoid wasting a ridiculous amount of time. I may even embrace that it’s 2018 and try grocery delivery this month! Seriously, am I the only one who hasn’t tried it yet?
#3: I am recommitTing to bullet journaling (and renouncing the chaos).
In January, I began creating my own weekly calendar in my spiral notebook planner. I fell off the wagon in June with the distractions of summer, so I’m getting back on now. It’s NOT fancy. I DO NOT doodle or create beautiful spreads like you see on Pinterest. It is pencil and ruler-drawn columns for each day, with “to do” boxes to check, and includes my meal planning for the week.
(I also write our weekly menu plan on a white board on the fridge to keep it handy and it lets the family know what’s for dinner, but the written record has become helpful to page through for repeat ideas over time.)
I use bullet journaling in conjunction with my phone calendar for appointments and reminders. It is simple, organized and customized to me and I am less scatter-brained and better off when I do it every week. Honestly, I’m starting next week when the after-school activities ramp up…
#4: I AM SCHEDULING 30 MINUTES EVERY DAY TO WORK OUT.
I’m usually active every day, but I tend to give up time for myself when things come up or I get busy and stressed, so I really want to work on this. I’ve definitely had more time in the morning now that I’m not making lunches! But I prefer to wait till the kids are off to school, so I’m not designating a specific time. I just want to literally schedule some type of exercise for myself each day and treat it like any other commitment I make to other people.
Have I mentioned Planning Ahead is Key?
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. Planning ahead is the best way to make positive changes to your lifestyle, such as eating more real foods and fewer processed foods. And it can and should be the simplest of plans. To overstate the obvious, when we prioritize things that are most important to us, and have a way to stay organized, life is less overwhelming. Anything we can do to simplify things and create healthy habits helps our brains work for us, not against us, sort of on autopilot.
So, that’s what I call crushing it–planning ahead, doing the important things well, consistently. (That is, most of the time, with some grace for yourself!) I’d love to learn more about how you’re planning to crush the back to school rush, too.