For most people, back to school time can feel like frantically running a race, or even a marathon. Counting and recounting school supplies, scheduling the kids’ activities, getting haircuts, driving, and making sure everyone is fed—it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle. Many people barely make it through this time, and feel stressed and overwhelmed. The good news? It can be better for you this year! Here are 4 tips to help you not forget about your own self-care during the chaos of back-to-school.
Schedule Time For You, Today
So many people get caught up in being Mr. or Mrs. Tomorrow, but forget about what the options are today. We overestimate the likelihood that time and opportunities will open up for ourselves, and also overestimate the amount of energy we will have leftover, forgetting about doing what we need to recharge. The unfortunate truth is that without setting some boundaries for future time, the needs of others will seep in, leaving us with large amounts of “should have’s.” The reason a family participates in regular activities is because they are scheduled, and this is usually the only way to get regular activity into your life. This scheduled time doesn’t need to be an organized activity or sport—it can be as simple setting time aside for reading, going for a walk, or connecting with family and friends.
Many people that are helpers or caregivers at heart tend to be the first (and only) ones to offer their help. But sometimes there are others who can help with the job; remember, it takes a village to raise a family. Ask yourself, “Are there any ways to add efficiencies in my schedule?” Do you feel more filled by splitting tasks in half (e.g. your partner and you each do half the pick-ups in one day) or by alternating (e.g. Mondays and Wednesdays are your nights, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are your partners’ nights)?
It can be difficult to imagine stepping back from being present at every family moment. Yet, a season of soccer practices is often one practice repeated dozens of times. Think about how important it is for your child on a scale of 1-10 that you attend that practice, and then rate how much effort it requires from you to attend. Rather than going to every practice, perhaps you go to every 2nd or 3rd practice. Find the interval that works for you, as you may have more love, excitement and ability to be present if you recharge yourself more often.
Schedule Time for Nothing
One of the hardest parts of “adulting” and parenting is the lack of time. Every hour of the day may be scheduled, and everything multitasked. After having a family, many people struggle to be in touch with what they want or need because of the constant bustle. An important part of self-care is scheduling small amounts of time that are not scheduled. Ideally, find one chunk of time during the week and weekday where you have no concrete plans, and don’t’ decide what to do until that time comes. So, if your time is 8-9:30 pm on Wednesday night, you can do whatever you want to do in that moment—whether it be going to bed early, reading, cooking, going for a walk, or playing a game. The idea is to be in touch with what you need in that moment, and to fulfill your own needs in that time frame.
By Mallory Becker – Registered Psychologist