Today, I have back to school time on the brain! Even though I get the benefit of a later start date with my kids’ school, I know a lot of you have already started or are going to start the school year very soon in your households. I wanted to share how I prepare for back to school. After all, back to school is not just for the littles!
I’ve always looked forward to back to school time. As a kid, I got excited about new pencils, new clothes, and picking out my Trapper Keeper! Do they still have those? I try to build the same excitement in my boys and instill in them a sense of gratitude that they get to go to a great school.
As Moms though, we tend to put our needs on the back-burner and put the needs of our family first. We are pretty much super heroes working our day-time jobs, keeping our homes, cooking the meals, and making sure everyone has everything they need. We become professional chauffeurs for every sport, lesson, and function. Somewhere in there, we manage to run all the errands too. All this any given day.
Something I started a couple of years back was to make sure I was a priority. I realized if I wasn’t spiritually fed, didn’t make time to work out daily, and lived in my yoga pants all day– I wasn’t giving anyone my best. Not my husband, not my kids, not my friends, not even the clerk at the store. I realized I needed to prepare for all this better.
So, when I see August on my calendar, I know it’s time to ready my home, work, and self for the school year. I created a little checklist to show you the things I get done before the first day of school comes around. Making these extra efforts really does make the school year better for all of us. I’ve divided this into 3 lists: one for home, one for work, one for self.
When August comes, I take this time to reset my household. Summer makes us a bit lax when it comes to organization. After a few months of traveling, being outdoors, and bringing dirt in, it’s good to give our home a spruce up before the school year starts.
I declutter everything. That is one thing that really helps. It’s pretty much spring cleaning just for the school year. Also, stocking up on household items really helps. You don’t want to have to run to the grocery store on a busy weeknight for toilet paper. Little things like that actually do make a difference.
Another point to bring up is the family calendar. This is a biggie at our house. My work calendar I keep in my agenda book, but for the family I have a large one I hang in my office. It has everyone’s games, practices, school stuff, travel dates, vacations, etc. It really helps me to keep it separate from my work calendar. Having it in my office helps me cross-reference dates when I need to or see when work and family stuff would overlap.
Working from home as a design blogger is a blessing and a curse. I kid! But, really…if you aren’t super structured and organized it can be a huge stumbling block. Especially, if you are easily distracted. I wouldn’t have it any other way because working for myself affords me the flexibility to be available to attend things at my boys’ school and be available for their everyday needs.
When the school year comes around, I know I have to be on my game if I want to continue to grow my blog and continue to work. It’s also when the blog season really picks up. So, August is the perfect time to get everything in order in my work world for the rest of the year. I do this 2x a year. In January after the holiday break and in August before school starts. About every 6 months it works out to be.
The best thing I have done is set office hours for myself. I wake up before everyone, have my quiet time and study time, and then focus on getting my kids ready and off to school. After drop off, I head to gym to get my work out in and then come home to shower, get dressed, and start the work day. I try to have all this done before 10am. I set morning hours and afternoon hours for blog work and client work. There are always surprises every week, but having this structure really keeps me steady. This way, I am free for pick-up and spend my evenings at games, doing homework, and making sure everyone has a healthy dinner.
Also, I think it’s really important to schedule a day off work once or twice a month. A day to have a spa day or meet up with a girlfriend. Working from home can be a bit isolating when it doesn’t involve collaborating locally, so I crave a little girl time outside of church and other functions.
Make “you” a priority. This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve had in juggling work with family life and running a household. Sleeping enough hours, eating healthy (even on the go), and cutting out time to exercise are all of the highest importance. This is the best way to give your best to your family, work, and life. It may sound selfish to say “make you a priority”, but it is really a SELFLESS thing to do if you examine it. Taking care of yourself = giving your best to others. PERIOD.
For me, this means waking up before everyone to have time in the word and pray. I need a good solid 8 hours of sleep to be at my best. Always been that way. 9 is even better, but rarely happens. So, I do stick to a bed time and honestly I’m usually ready for it after a busy weekday during the school year.
This also means going to the gym before the work day starts, as much as I loathe AM gym time. This means spending time on my Sunday planning healthy meals and grocery shopping. This means dressing nice every single day. Dressing nice is just my way of feeling good about myself, even if I am working from home and only leaving to drive the kids around before and after school.
I am a rewards system type of person, so, of course I’ve created a little tradition of perks I do for myself when every school year comes around too. I buy a few new things. I figure, I work hard for my money and a little shop therapy is good for the school year. Usually, it’s cute gym clothes, water bottles, to-go mugs, stuff like that. I’ll share my list for this year later this week.
I also have a movie I watch the weekend before school starts. Mine is You’ve Got Mail. It’s my back to school movie. I mean “bouquets of sharpened pencils”, come on! It just gets me in the mood for school and fall and holiday time.
That’s how I roll for back to school. Finding the balance is the challenge and usually at some point I need to reassess and adjust. Discipline is the key for me and I crave it when it falls by the wayside a bit over the summer.
Happy Back to School!!
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