With the back-to-school season well underway, let’s take a look at how families can use this time to restore and shape new routines to prevent burnout.
That’s right, the summer holidays are over and as we see the beginning of autumn, we also see children returning to school. Despite the buzz in the air of children, it can also be a time of doubt for parents facing the dreaded beginnings and school runs – and that’s all before they start their workday.
It’s six o’clock and you’ve probably had your first of many coffees that will get you through the morning. After getting everyone out of bed and trying to make them, you are faced with the great breakfast debate: who eats which cereals and in which colored bowl? Hair, teeth, coats, bags, shoes and a whirlwind of multitasking later, you are finally ready to walk out the door for the school run until … “I need the bathroom!” All before 8:30.
As exciting as it can be to watch your child grow up, the back-to-school season can also be a more emotional time for parents. The truth is, after a long summer and perhaps a nice family vacation, the struggle to get back to work is real, not to mention the school rush. Upon returning to work, you might be expected to remain positive and cool, when in reality you’ve already faced the battles of the day and it’s not even 9am.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do as a family that can help ease the hustle and bustle of the school morning routine.
Tips for restoring the school routine
1. Plan ahead
This seems easier said than done. The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is to fix everything for the next morning, but your mind and body will thank you for it.
Try to establish an evening routine before relaxing for some much-needed family time by gathering everything you and the kids need for the next day: Do homework need to be completed? Make sure school bags are ready, lunch baskets are ready, and you could even arrange plates, bowls, and cutlery in time for breakfast.
You may also want to leave coats, bags, and shoes on the front door to save time (and the panic of trying to find that missing shoe buried in the back of the closet). To make the most of it, encourage children to participate in the evening routine, such as preparing packed lunches together. This will not only give them some independence, but it will also allow you to spend time with them to catch up on their day.
2. Meal plan
The above also applies to the preparation of dinners. Batch cooking is a great way to ensure that the whole family is getting hearty, nutritious meals in a fraction of the time it normally takes to cook them. You could spend some time on the weekend thinking about what you would like to eat that week and store it in the freezer. This makes it a quick and easy way to prepare dinner for the whole family, while still leaving you the “time”.
Struggling for inspiration? Try these batch cooking recipes.
During the week, be sure to prioritize the things that really need to be done and throw aside the ones that can wait. The easiest way to keep track of this is to write a to-do list. Maybe you need to do your laundry or have you postponed your MOT booking?
Where possible, you can also ask children for help, for example by encouraging them to put away their clothes or tidy up their room. As a parent working with a family, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t done everything you hoped for. Prioritizing allows you to feel like you are keeping up with things while preventing your physical and mental health from being overloaded.
In this video, Dr. Julie Smith discusses everyday ways to manage stress and prevent burnout.
4. Plan your downtime
The school holidays are over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t switch off and relax. In fact, making sure you still have time to spend with your family and take care of yourself is one of the most effective ways to take care of your well-being and support a healthy work-life balance.
Ensuring we’re well rested allows our internal batteries to recharge and focus again and makes you feel energized and motivated. Taking a break doesn’t have to mean just relaxing in front of the TV or taking a bubble bath. You could go for a walk, read for half an hour, or meditate. Maybe your family has a TV show that you all enjoy watching together or enjoying a game night? Find time for quality time.
5. Be honest
Remember to recognize that being a parent is a full-time job in itself. If you’re struggling to stay productive at work or feel like you run out of energy, (especially if you come back to the office after working at home) talk to your boss or co-workers. You won’t be the only one feeling this way this time of year.
Try bringing these tips to the workplace by planning your time and prioritizing your workload. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is better to talk about it first rather than waiting until you are completely exhausted.
By restoring your back-to-school routine, hopefully the morning chaos will be a little calmer. The goal here is to think of time-saving tricks that get you out the door in the most relaxed way possible. This is not to say that it will always go according to plan – life happens – but it will facilitate the transition from summer holidays.
If you still feel like you lack structure in your day, you may want to consider hiring a life coach. Life coaches can offer support in a variety of areas, including burnout, families, and work-life balance, and can help you navigate the new school year.