If you’re anything like me – a working parent with multiple children – the approaching end of the summer brings a combination of relief and panic.
Relief, because you’ll no longer be cobbling together childcare options from expensive summer camps, grandparent visits, and PTO.
Panic, because the lax attitude you can adopt in the summer towards your children’s bedtime, dress code, homework, and (cough) hygiene is about to come to an end.
August is the perfect time to start thinking about back-to-school logistics, however, while there’s still time to fill out forms, find after-school care, and get good deals on school supplies. Here are some ideas to consider as prep.
*Take some time to reflect on last year, and consider your priorities. What worked for you, what didn’t? Were you happy with the amount of time you spent with your children? Did you feel like you were able to meet your key work priorities? A shift in seasons for the family is a good time to adjust your schedule, too.
*Map out the ideal week for yourself and your kids. I used a spreadsheet to capture the rather complicated schedule of my work, my husband’s work and volunteer hours, my four children, and my au pair. You can find a blank spreadsheet here to adapt for your own schedule, or be nosy and take a look at my spreadsheet here.
*Figure out your backup. Hopefully, you’ve already put the professional development days and school holidays on your calendar and worked out how you’ll take care of the kids on those days. If you haven’t, don’t worry, I haven’t either so it’s next on my to-do list. Now it’s time to plan for the unexpected. If the nurse calls from school that your child has a fever, who is on duty to pick them up? Working out those logistics ahead of time can save a lot of stress.
*Make some breathing room. Many of us are so tightly scheduled that we don’t build in room for margin. Especially if you’ve had a stressful summer, you might need a bit of TLC from yourself. When the kids go back to school, could you give yourself a day – or even an hour – of something you would enjoy? Maybe it’s lunch with a friend, or a quiet walk in a favorite park. Build in a little bit of breathing room to rejuvenate yourself.
Do you feel more ready? Another trick I’ll be using is to keep a record of what I do this time around to refer to next year. Keeping notes always helps me when things feel overwhelming!