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It’s hard to believe it, but summer break has come and gone. Now we’re staring down the start of a new school year with all its excitement and, let’s face it, exhaustion.
I love the energy in the air at the beginning of a new school year, but it’s easy to ramp up the pace too quickly and burn out fast. Here are some tips that can help you ease in to the school-year routine, take on new commitments with intention, and make space and time for your own growth:
1. Give yourself a transition period.
It’s tempting to jump right into the busy-ness of school life, and to some extent, we don’t have much of a choice (in our elementary school, fundraiser forms and activity sign-up sheets come home the first week, and my high-school son has already been playing tennis since mid-August!)
But try to build in some opportunities to enjoy those fleeting weeks of warmer weather (who says you can’t go to the beach just because school’s in?) and give yourself time to adjust to the more structured pace of the school year. I like to keep our September weekends pretty open, and we usually plan at least one fun getaway in the early fall so we can remember what it feels like to relax.
2. Talk to the kids about activities ahead of time.
The year Owen started school, I had three kids in elementary school at once. One day they all came through the front door together and waved fistfuls of sign-up sheets in my face, begging to sign up for basketball, art, Cub Scouts, martial arts and the youth musical. At the same time.
The following year, I set expectations ahead of time: generally one activity, per kid, at a time. I do make exceptions – I’m not opposed to an additional activity if it doesn’t disrupt our weekends or family time – but the kids know that it’s important to me that we all sit down to dinner together at least a few times a week, and that I will not live my entire life in the driver’s seat of the car.
3. Take time to dream.
Back-to-school can be exciting for Mom, too. If you’re at home, the house will be quieter and you can look forward to tackling new projects (or just drinking your morning coffee in peace.) Even if you work outside the home and your schedule hasn’t changed much, the energy of the new school year and all its potential and possibility can be inspiring.
Take time to visualize how you’d like your “school year” to go. Is there an class you want to take or a new skill you’d like to learn? Do you want to get more – or less – involved in volunteer activities? Invest time in dreaming about your future. Buy yourself some high-quality pens and a new journal or notebook and start jotting down ideas. A new school year can be an energizing time for everyone in the family: take advantage of it!