Austin parents, the 2017/2018 school year is just around the corner! In fact, some of you might have already started. A lot of parents tend to favor the summer months because they are more laid back, which means looser schedules, later bedtimes, and generally more relaxation. The start of a new year can also elicit some anxiety as we feel pressured to maintain our busy schedules and activities. How do you keep your sanity intact, even when you're overloaded? Check out five of our favorite tips.
1. Pack Lunches & Backpacks the Night Before. Seems simple, right? I promise that this easy tip is a lifesaver! I know all too well that at the end of a long day of work and/or kids, the last thing on your mind is prepping for the following day -- all you want to do is relax! If you take that extra few minutes, though, your mornings are going to feel a lot less hectic. If your kids are old enough to pack their own lunches, make it part of their daily routine and require that they do so before bedtime. If you're packing lunches, pack them while you're making dinner or cleaning up the kitchen to create a more streamlined routine. When homework is finished, make it a habit to put it right into your child's backpack, along with everything else needed for the following day. We have a rule in our house that we don't sign permission slips the morning they are due -- having everything completed the night before helps the morning run smoother.
2. Form A Carpool. I moved to Austin from Philadelphia almost exactly a year ago. Prior to that, I lived in Boston for most of my life. If there's one thing I know all too well, it's how difficult it is to start over. My kids have a large age gap, and subsequently, I was rushing my middle schooler around to cheer practice while simultaneously trying to keep the baby awake so he wouldn't miss his afternoon nap. For everyone else's sanity and yours -- start a carpool! This might require going a little out of your comfort zone, but I promise you'll be so thrilled that you did. If you don't know anyone else on the team, approach the coach and ask for a list of parent emails. Introduce yourself and ask to be part of an existing carpool or form one with someone near you. Not only will this free up more of your time and sanity, but you're also helping out other parents. It takes a village!
3. Amazon Prime. I'm just going to throw it out there -- I love a good Target trip, but I don't love dragging my kids with me on a regular basis. The start of the school year means birthday gifts for classmates and purchasing supplies for projects. Rather than having to take various trips throughout the year, an Amazon Prime membership saves you both time and sanity. Bonus: if you're a student, you can get a pretty significant discount. They have everything from glue sticks to the most cost effective birthday gifts, so consider taking advantage of their convenient doorstep delivery.
4. Don't Overload Yourself. Speaking of activities and birthday parties, don't forget to take a step back and remind yourself that it's ok to say "no." As much as I love keeping my kids busy with extracurriculars, we limit them so we're not spending the entire week rushing around. Birthday parties are a great way to celebrate the special friends in your kids' lives, but it's ok to opt out sometimes. As parents, we wear many different hats and take on many obligations -- sometimes we need to stop and remind ourselves that family comes first, especially in the midst of a busy school year.
5. Simplify your meals. One of the toughest parts of the weekday routine is finding time to feed your family healthy dinners on a regular basis. By the time everyone gets home, there isn't much time or energy left. Two things that save my sanity are the crock pot and the pressure cooker. Utilize them as much as possible! Consider meal planning before you grocery shop and prepping over the weekend. Chop vegetables and thaw meat beforehand. Choose dinners on your menu that are healthy but simple so you aren't spending hours in the kitchen and leaving behind a sink full of dirty dishes. I deeply favor one pot meals because they're just so easy, and we also have plenty of breakfasts for dinner such as scrambled eggs and pancakes. For quick breakfasts, consider prepping overnight oats or preparing a batch of egg muffins or freezer friendly breakfast burritos that can be warmed quickly and eaten on the go.
There's no doubt that a new school year is exciting, but it can also be busy! Consider these tips to help you keep your family streamlined and maintain your sanity as much as possible. Do you have another tip to share? We'd love to read about it in the comments below!
About the Author:
Jessica is an East Coast girl originally from Boston, MA but recently transplated to Austin, TX. She is a former OB Nurse Educator turned Content Manager and Brand Strategist. She recently founded Every Mama Birth Education, where she creates customized childbirth education courses for busy moms, in the comfort of their own homes. When she's not busy blogging or being a pregnancy and birth nerd, you can catch her chasing around her three busy kids and rescue fur baby. You can also follow her antics on Instagram.