Now that the school year is fully underway many parents are beginning to feel the crunch. Between school orientations, conferences, chauffeuring kids, after-school activities, and homework, it’s easy to despair. While the start of school comes with its own set of unique challenges, perhaps the biggest one is how to juggle it all while maintaining one’s sanity. Take heart if you are feeling overwhelmed! With a bit of organization and a lot of deep breathing, you too can survive the beginning of a new school year. Check out these tips from Red Apple Reading:
A typical mistake parents make is attempting to manage everything singlehandedly. While this method of management may give one the illusion of being in control, it almost always ends in disaster and/or exhaustion. The solution lies in learning to delegate. Ask yourself if there is someone else who can accomplish the next thing on the list. For example, children can make their own lunches the night before as well as lay out their clothes, and teenage kids can help with transporting younger siblings.
- Don’t Overschedule
Parents often feel overwhelmed because they have overscheduled themselves and their children. While extracurricular activities are beneficial for kids, too much of this good thing often creates unnecessary stress. Does your kid have the opportunity to lie in the grass and look at clouds, or are you both so busy running to piano, soccer practice, and tutoring that you barely have time to sleep? If there is no free time in your schedule, the schedule is running you – you’re not running the schedule.
- Develop a Routine
It is neither beneficial nor healthy for a kid to run his day according to his own whims. While there is always room for compromise and flexibility throughout the day, you and your child will both benefit from a routine. For instance, we have found that our son’s morning preparation for school goes more smoothly when we leave the television off until he is completely ready for school. We also do homework within 30 minutes of arriving home from school in the afternoon. Of course, my older teenaged children are allowed more freedom to manage their own routines – with the understanding that mom and dad will step in if they aren’t being responsible.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Perhaps the most important part of maintaining sanity during the school year is to make sure everyone is getting the appropriate amount of sleep. The CDC recommends that preschoolers receive 10-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours, while school age children get 9-12, teenagers get 8-10, and adults get 7 or more. A sleep deprived child (or parent) is prone to grumpiness and increased feelings of anxiety. Don’t give into the temptation to cut corners here. Your school year will run more smoothly when everyone in the family is well rested.
- Periodically Re-evaluate
As the school year progresses parents often discover that their resolutions and good intentions start to unravel around October. Take time to periodically re-evaluate how the year is going. Are their things you’ve let slip? Does your calendar need to be re-thought and tweaked? Have household priorities gotten mixed up? What’s working and what’s not? Be willing to make the changes necessary to help your household run more smoothly.
Parents, we can manage this school year and keep our sanity intact! Let’s implement healthy strategies and enjoy the year that lies ahead.