The school year is now in full swing; you worked hard to prepare the kids and yourself for a successful transition and it really paid off. The school year kicked off so smoothly. But now fall sports are revving up, music lessons (and the practicing that goes along with) are in the works and homework needs to be done…….and those are just the kids’ commitments! Busy schedules are the norm these days, but it certainly makes sticking to all our great organizing habits tough. Incorporate my CAMP method into your nightly routine to make hectic weekdays a bit easier on yourself and the kids.
Consistency – Being consistent is so hard! But it will go a long way toward keeping your family on track, so it’s worth it. If bedtime is 7:45pm on school nights, stick to it. If your rule is that homework needs to be done before play time, don’t let them wear you down asking please, please, please just this once let me go outside first. And since we can’t live in a world of absolutes, save exceptions for unusual or special occasions. Kids needs sleep and parents need down time to prepare for the next day and, when we’re lucky, to relax.
Action – Taking action tonight will save you precious (and limited) time the following morning. Prepare, Pack, Prep and Pick. Prepare by reviewing your calendar and school communications. Pack backpacks, laptop bags, purses….you know where the car keys are, right? Prep family lunches and pick out tomorrow’s outfits. Will you act on each of these suggestions nightly? Most likely not, so just set realistic expectations of yourself; I pat myself on the back if I do at least two a night. The one I faithfully prioritize is preparation because visually confirming what is on the agenda the following day (or few days) gives me the greatest sense of peace, which for me, translates into a better night’s rest.
Meal Planning – I dream of being one of those amazing people who plans and preps food for their weekly meals well in advance, making dinner time a snap…….unfortunately this is not my strong suit. But helping my kids develop good eating habits and putting healthy meals on the table as many nights as possible is a priority for me. This becomes more difficult when after school activities and homework are part of the nightly mix, so to give myself the greatest chance for success, I sit down on Sunday evenings and plan meals based on the week’s calendar. If the boys have soccer practice on Tuesday nights, I’ll plan on tacos (#tacotuesday) because they are quick and require no prep. If Thursday nights are free of after school activities and client sessions, I will select a healthy family favorite that requires more prep and cook time. And on evenings that I have a client session, the crock pot is my (and my husband’s) best friend.
Pay Attention – I will be the first to admit, I do not always pay attention the way that I should. I find myself multitasking to the point of missing out on great opportunities to connect with my kids, especially during the school year when there is an abundance of after school commitments. Every household runs on a different schedule, so sitting down for dinner together every night may not be a possibility for your family, but if it is, do it as often as you can. And if not dinner, simply find another time that works best for you to be fully engaged with your kiddos. I want my family not to just know, but also to feel, like my first priority and I doubt that comes through when I have one eye on my iPhone while they are trying to ask me a question (#guilty). But when I do pay close attention and really focus on my boys, I can see them light up inside. They are happy and cooperative, which translates into an easier, less stressful evening. In our household, the boys are most likely to engage in more meaningful conversations closer to bedtime. This works really well for me because I get a little time with each of them alone, while the other is in the shower. I love having that one-on-one time to hear their stories, their worries, sometimes to answer tough questions (i.e. “Mom I heard something really inappropriate today……”) and to have some laughs. It’s in those moments I find myself lighting up inside and remember that I need this time just as much as the boys.
And that’s a wrap for the 3 part Back to School series. I hope you find something from CAMP that makes school nights a bit easier and ultimately helps you make a few of the good habits stick. Let’s face it, we do the best we can with the circumstances we’re in at any given point. Some days we are rock star parents, spouses, employees, etc. and others….well let’s hope no one ever videos those particular days for social media sharing. Best wishes for more rock star days, less stressful nights and a phenomenal school year!