It’s back to school time again!
Back to school time is also back to sanity time for most moms with school-aged children! Here are some great back to school strategies that are never too late to implement for more sanity!
One of my friends says that the first day of school after a long summer break is her favorite day, because it’s the day her head feels screwed back on again!
Well school’s back in session and that means that the recent weeks have been ‘back to work’ for me too!
I’ve been scurrying to catch up on all those ‘important’ but not ‘urgent’ tasks that I de-prioritized this summer to make room for fun, family and friends… so I’ve been sitting behind this computer for FAR TOO MANY HOURS these past weeks! But it always feels so good to get our school schedules nailed down, our after school activities on the calendar and the extra-curricular things put in place.
There’s a sweet sadness to back to school time… I love the excitement of starting new things and I love watching my kids grow into their adult-selves. It’s very fun and exciting! Yet, as summer days get shorter, nightfall comes earlier, evenings get cooler – there is always the whisper of summer waving her fair-weather hand good bye. So – I’ve been spending as much time as I can gliding around in my new kayack!
It’s simply beautiful and so peaceful. Just yesterday I spooked a GIANT Egret – and he flew right over my head! (He really scared me more than I startled him!)
So, as we flow back into the school mode, here are some strategies I use and a checklist to help you plan, prioritize and maintain your sanity this season!
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Back To School Strategies for Working Moms to Stay Sane!
Conscious scheduling takes time and your full attention! (At least for me!) – Conscious scheduling means actually scheduling time for not just work and activities for your kids, but also for the parts of yourself that may need a bit more attention. I was the president of a local association in my field a few years ago, and I opened our first planning meeting with a list like the one below – I wanted people to be absolutely clear where my priorities were, and how my volunteer work fit into the scheme of my life… I can’t tell you how many people came up to me afterward to thank me for sharing this list… Not that the volunteer work was unimportant, but that it was lower on the list than many other things. This gave them the permission to prioritize their work accordingly, and I believe was one of the winning formulas of the entire volunteer board. We all had clarity around our volunteer time, and although there were commitments and expectations – the priority was clear.
The list below is what I refer to when I begin my quarterly, monthly and weekly scheduling. It keeps me aware of what I value most – and helps me juggle all the different moving pieces for our family and my business.
- Self: Nurturing Routines – These include time for the things I love daily/weekly and monthly, I make sure I schedule time for yoga, working out at the gym, journaling, time for myself, reading and meditation.
- Home: Meal Times – I grew up in a large family and family dinners were the place where I learned most of my life lessons. I still consider this sacred time with my family. As the kids have grown and their commitments have increased, we are sure to schedule as many as we can weekly. Our favorite past time to make meals work is to combine our Sunday evening meal with our weekly plan and review. We call this our Sunday Sanity Summit (click the link to download your very own template and use it this week!) – and it really helps to keep us on track!
- Family Events/Holidays – There are certain things that are non-negotiable. These would be those. I always look here first before I fill up my schedule with other less-important commitments.
- My Work – Since I own my business, I can pretty much determine my schedule. This of course is a double-edged sword, because it’s really easy (as a work at home mom) to blend my time and it’s difficult to separate work from home, since my home is where I work… So – to make it more reasonable, I’ve created boundaries around administrative time, writing, marketing, sales, networking – and services. As a coach, I’ve dedicated certain days per week for certain tasks. For instance, most of my client calls and commitments fall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And, I revisit my schedule monthly and quarterly to fill in speaking engagements, appearances and travel. I reserve about five evenings monthly for webinars, appearances, masterminds and my own development.
- Hubby’s Commitments (Travel, Work, Volunteer) – Since I’m married, one of the keys to success is making sure I am still supporting my husband and his career and needs. He’s the one who’s worked tirelessly to support me and help finance my business build… so – his commitments are very important to me. Of course – we try to make room for everything, but his travel and commitments have to be considered when I plan our schedule.
- School Events – These can get crazy when you have multiple children… especially when they span the age-gaps and schools. Primary-aged kids have totally different commitments than high schoolers – but each school has non-negotiables like concerts, open houses, parent/pta meetings and other events.
- Volunteer Time – Our volunteering is a wonderful way to give back… and I’ve certainly run amuck with too many ‘yes’s to too many causes in the past. Now, when I’m asked to participate as a volunteer, I look at my commitments and I make sure to ask the important questions about expectations, time and tasks – so I’m sure to not overcommit. As Steve Jobs has said:
Focus is not about saying yes to everything, but saying to to most things so you can focus on the things that really matter. Learning to say no has been integral to my success.
- Extra Curricular Events for the Kids – And finally – the extra curricular events come into play. As I look at my calendar – and everything that shows up, it’s hard to believe this is actually last on my list – but it is. I feel that extra-curricular’s are incredibly important for my childrens’ development and happiness, but they do line up AFTER all the above. This also helps my family keep our priorities straight – and helps us when we sometimes have to make those hard decisions.
One of the practices that has really helped me keep things straight is weekly planning. I’ve created a great weekly practice which we call the Sunday Sanity Summit. After dinner on Sunday nights, the whole family gathers to review our accomplishments from the week before, and set up for next week’s success. The practice has worked so well for us as a family – that I created a tool to share with my clients – The Sunday Sanity Summit. You can download here it as my gift to you! Use it weekly to help stay on track and maintain scheduling sanity!
Your Sanity Assignment
How do you make room for everything on your schedule? How do you make time to re-center? Do you have any sanity strategies to share with other mompreneurs who are reading?
Please scroll down and share your comments below!