Back to school already? It’s that time of year. Summer is coming to a close. Target began showcasing their school supplies in late June, reminding us all that eight weeks would go by way too fast. You have a short time to spend with your kids while they’re home, balancing the demands of motherhood with travel plans and your own career.
Now imagine you’re a teacher. And the end of summer has a whole new meaning as you ready your mind and heart to leave your own kids to educate someone else’s. Is it easy? No way. Years of teaching and mothering have shown me this. But if you choose this teacher mom life, it is possible to do both. Teaching while mothering has forced me to get really good at systems, simplifying, and figuring out what matters. And to close out this summer, I leave you with five best practices that this teacher mom has implemented to make the back-to-school transition a little bit easier. My hope is that whatever career or stage of life you are in, you will find at least one tip you can implement in the coming weeks.
1. First things first
It’s summer and we want to do a million things. Especially living in the DMV where there are countless activities and access to museums, festivals, and a short drive from nature or the beach. It is best to complete this step before school ends, but I recommend sitting down with your significant other (or support people), and talking through what you want to get out of the short time you have together. This step is helpful whether you are a teacher, a stay-at-home mom, or working in another field. No one can do it all! So it helps to prioritize how you would like to spend your time and the sacrifices that you may need to make.
This summer, our main priority was travel. This meant that I had to work to earn some extra money so that we could travel the way we wanted to. It also meant that we said no to camps and other large vacations so that we could pull it off. We kept this at the forefront of our minds and it ended up being well worth it.
2. Keep it simple
I have three girls—one starting middle school, one starting third grade, and one going to Kindergarten. Back-to-school has always been exciting for us, but it takes on a new level of excitement (and chaos) when all of them are in school. Of course they want every single outfit they see in the store, new shoes, new backpacks, water bottles, etc. Not to mention the required supplies that the school asks you to buy. This year, both for simplicity and budgetary’s sake, we first took inventory of what we had before loading up on new things. It turns out we actually didn’t need much. Each child got a first-day-of-school outfit and a few basics, but until the weather changes, they have everything they need. If you find yourself in a position where your list is longer, I recommend checking out your local consignment shops before paying full price at the store.
3. Call on your people
Since our kids have been in school, our routines and rhythms have existed in community with those living closest to us. My neighbors and I began coordinating when our kids started attending the local public school, and we quickly learned that not all of us need to be doing pickup and drop off every day when our kids are all going to the same place. Since then, we have worked as a team to get our kids to and from school. I have a lot less flexibility as a teacher than I did when I was home with my kids, so its a relief knowing that my neighbors can split drop off while I get to school early. My husband splits pickups with another neighbors, and this is a huge weight off my shoulders. Plus, we get to make friends with families in the same stage of life as us, which is a good thing.
4. First things first
Wait-Did I say this already? I did. That’s because it’s crucial for not only summer, but the start of the school year. Where there are careers, social lives, sports, pickups, drop offs, field trips, travel opportunities–not to mention maintaining relationships… Balance is needed. Decide with your spouse or those living in your house what will take precedence as you make the transition. This year, we are prioritizing date nights, rest after school, and settling into new rhythms with ease. My kids have been playing soccer for a few years but I’m not sure they will this year, because they are also interested in ballet and dance.
I know our family and our bandwidth, so decisions will have to be made. Family dinner and low stress levels are big priorities in our family, so we try to keep things after school and on weekends as unbooked as possible so that kids can say yes to friends, family gatherings, and just good old fashioned rest. Figuring out what is important to you and your family will keep you from saying yes where you actually want to say no, so that your time and relationships remain intact.
5. Figure out what rest looks like for you
This took me forever to figure out. Imagine this: You have been CRAVING time to yourself and you finally have a few hours of it. But you have no idea where to start. It helps to figure out what you consider restful versus refreshing/productive. Personally, I find time outdoors, running, reading, and taking a nap to be very restorative. I also love a good Netflix binge. As moms (working or not), it can be hard to come by free time. Every moment of this is sacred, so it’s really beneficial to know how you want to spend it. Otherwise, your “me” time becomes a mad rush to finish as many things as you can, which can be the opposite of relaxing.
I hope these 5 best practices help you and yours to ease the transition into the coming weeks, regardless of where you are in life. Have any other tips for moms? Leave them in the comments!