Fall is a busy time of year for everyone and the transition can be stressful for kids and adults. New teachers, evening sports activities, and new family schedules due to changing schools or jobs can make everyone feel frazzled and grumpy. Here are some ways to reduce and manage stress as you shift into school gear.
Figure out what schedule works for you and your family and stick to it.
Mornings are generally the most difficult transition time in my household. I am not a “jump out of bed full of energy” type of person, so I need to make sure I give myself and my kids enough time to move through the morning and be on time for school. One of my personal goals this year is to be on time. It sounds straightforward, but I’ve had to shift my thinking and planning to allow for more time than I think I need. This year we’ve decided to write out the morning schedule and what needs to be done by when for us to leave on time. Hopefully, this will lead to the boys taking more ownership of making mornings smooth.
Plan ahead for school lunches so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every morning.
School lunches are another major source of stress for many people. My kids are generally not very picky eaters … except for lunch. Over the years, the number of things they will eat for school lunch has dwindled dramatically. Leftovers are out, apples are out, along with most sandwiches, mac and cheese and nearly all fruits. Opening a lunch box full of untouched food drives me crazy – kids need to eat in order for their brains to work in school and not be complete grumps after school and it’s wasteful. So I’m doing two things this year to reduce my stress around lunches. 1) I made a chart for Monday-Friday with space for each kid to select what they will have for lunch that week. The younger one will often want the same thing many days in a row. Right now, it’s guacamole rolled up in a tortilla. The older one likes to mix it up a bit more, but one he often returns to is the “snack lunch” which consists of a variety of snacky things in plastic container (e.g., pepperoni, tortilla chips, carrots, cheese, trail mix) 2) I’ve reminded myself that it’s the big picture that matters – as long as they eat what’s there and get some nutrition. I remember hearing this from the pediatrician when the kids were toddlers – don’t worry about them getting a balanced meal every time they eat, but focus instead on what they eat over the course of a day or week. My kids tend to eat really well at dinner so I worry less about lunch. My friends kids always eat a big, healthy breakfast. Think about when you’re kids do their best eating and focus on those times to get them the best nutrition. So for us, sometimes lunch includes a butter and honey sandwich or tapioca pudding (which surprisingly has less sugar than some vanilla yogurts!). I’ve found that even my clients with very picky eaters can come up with a solid list of things their child will eat.
Get support from your partner, friend or a coach.
Creating systems and using them consistently is a challenge for most of us and it’s helpful to have support. If you’d like some support and accountability to make this happen, contact me for a free consultation! For more information on dealing with evening sports and making quick and easy dinners, check out this post (link).