I don’t know about you, but back-to-school is a lot more hectic as an adult than I remember it as a kid. Add that to my “Ways Being An Adult is Less Fun Than I Thought it Would Be” list.
Gone is the excitement, anticipation, and joy, all to be replaced with stress, overwhelm, frustration, and worry. There’s a million things to do, a million dollars to spend, a million children to tend to, and about five minutes to do all of it.
Getting everyone up and ready is a daily battle. Then there are the assignments, the activities, the class participation, after school activities, and everything in between. I might need a gallon of coffee daily just to get through September.
But, in the midst of our ramping up for the school year to come, I’m trying to slow down. I’m centering myself and creating a regular practice of finding peace in the midst of the crazy.
Here are 7 Great Ways to Prepare for (and, hopefully, Maintain!) a More Positive School Year:
1. Make a "Sanity Supply List"
I’m not talking office supplies, though maybe some of those will be on there. I’m talking Sanity Supplies. Your favorite music? Check. A soothing beverage? Check. Maybe some essential oils or a cozy cardigan or snacks for your purse. In order to set yourself up for success during times of stress, like the beginning of the school year, you need to surround yourself with things that soothe and calm. Make a list of all your beloved sanity savers and stock up!
2. Prioritize and Purge Your Schedule
Your most valuable possession is Time. Take a long, hard look at your back-to-school schedule and then the rest of the school year. Carefully consider your priorities, placing the maintenance of joy and peace in your family at the top of the list. Purge all unnecessary commitments, and then get rid of a couple more. It’ll be painful now, but you’ll feel the peace and positivity as fruits soon after.
3. Get Plenty of Rest - the Sabbath Kind
Of course, sleep is important and can make the difference between a mom-zilla and Mom of the Year, but I’m talking about more than just catching some Zzzz’s. We need actual rest, space in our minds, peace in our hearts. The kind of rest that can only be found in Christ, with His yoke upon us, not the yoke we have created for ourselves (Matthew 11:28-30). We need the kind of Sabbath rest God created us for, where we set aside work, stress, pressure, distractions, to be in His presence (Genesis 2:2-3). Let go of any personal expectations that you can to leave a margin for rest.
4. Reclaim Your Mornings
Too often, as parents, our mornings are dominated by caring for our children and getting them out the door. We get caught up in the mad-dash, and before we know it, we are shouting, “JUST GET IN THE CAR!” to a tearful child. Not the best way to start the day. Let me be clear, I am not a morning person. It is nearly impossible for me to wake up before the rest of my family. I do it, on occasion, and I find it extremely helpful for starting my day with joy and grace. But this doesn’t happen everyday. It doesn’t even happen half the time. So how do I stake claim to my morning without waking up super early? Quick morning meditations and mantras that bring my focus back to Christ. Try writing some scripture on index cards for you to read and pray while brushing your teeth. Make a habit of turning on worship music as you are making coffee or packing lunches. Have a phrase or bible verse you will repeat to yourself when you start feeling frazzled. Take the morning back, don’t let it run away with you!
5. Stay in God's Word
Homework can be a battle. Keeping up with all the school requirements and assignments is stressful at any age. But you know what really helps? When parents stay on top of their own “homework” by staying in God’s word. While I’m harping on my kids to finish their work, stressing about the last minute assignments, pulling my hair out from fighting this daily battle, I’m forced to stop and ask myself if I’ve done the work I’ve been called to do. Homework is supposed to be practice of needed skills and preparation for an impending test, exactly what our time with God does for our lives. Sitting down and doing our own “homework” with the Lord may just be the best practice and preparation we can get for handling the pressure and battles of getting our children to finish their school work.
6. Watch How You Fill Your Body and Mind
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Or so the saying goes. I have memories of waking up to delicious, healthy breakfasts before big tests to prepare my body and mind for peak performance. Just take a look at Pinterest and you will see mother’s swapping tips for nutritious back-to-school breakfasts and healthy school lunch ideas. Unfortunately, we don’t put that kind of care and attention into what we put into our own bodies, and minds. Take a long, hard look at your diet. Not just the food that you eat, but the media you consume. If you find yourself, stressed, angry, discontent, overwhelmed, you need to be fueling your body and mind with higher-quality nutrients. Put as much care into your own back-to-school breakfasts and lunches as you do your children’s. Don’t feast your eyes and ears on junk food, and expect healthy, happy results. I love a guilty pleasure as much as the next girl, but to quote the wisdom of cookie monster, it should be a “sometimes food.” Sure you can eat a bag of dark chocolate pretzel crisps and watch the Bachelorette, but those are “sometimes foods.” Make sure your food and media habits are healthy 90% of the time, so you are in tip-top shape for back-to-school stress.
7. Pray Before You Speak
I have a wonderful friend with 4 little kiddos and another on the way. She shared on Facebook recently that she was struggling with anger and frustration at her kids one day, and her daughter could tell from her face that mom was about to blow! She quickly alerted her siblings, “Everybody STOP! Mom needs to pray really quick!”
Before I open my mouth in anger or frustration, let me stop and pray. Before I grumble at the many tasks on my list, let me stop and pray. Before I react out of fear or worry, let me stop and pray. And let this become such a habit that my children recognize my need for it. Cultivate a practice of minute by minute prayer as well as daily time set aside with your eyes focused on Jesus, seeking His guidance through the storms of parenthood. With our eyes firmly planted on Him, we can do anything! Even have a positive school year.
Related: Christians, It's Okay to Send Your Kids to Public School
Related: Beat Back-to-School Stress with These 9 TIps for Rest
Marie Osborne is a wife, mama, and blogger who loves Jesus & large non-fat lattes. You can find Marie on her blog encouraging, challenging, and laughing… under a pile of diapers.