Parenting presents challenges at all stages of the game. If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the challenges that come with parenting your school-aged children, you’re not alone.
You might think to yourself that because your kids are at an age where they are now fully feeding, dressing, and—GASP—using the bathroom by themselves, that you should be sailing through life, right?! So why is it that when we finally pass through the demands of toddlerhood, we still find ourselves with the same amount of stress, anxiety, and lack of time?
Not enough time in the day
With children in school for 6-6.5 hours per day, there leaves little time before bedtime to fit in your work responsibilities, dentist appointments, after school care and activities, homework, dinner, baths, playtime…whew! Are you struggling to get everything in since school started? It’s tough for families with children just starting elementary school to figure out how to fit everything into their day.
But with a little planning and organization, there are ways to make life a little easier:
- Calendar: Keep a large visual calendar out in a place you walk by often. Write down all appointments, after school activities, and play dates. Don’t keep it all floating in your brain. Mental burnout is real, and, even in our digital age, having something physical that you can look at , can help lessen your mental load. Color-coding and using symbols (like water waves for swim lessons) can make your calendar easy-to-read at a glance.
- Nighttime preparations: Mornings before school and work are hectic. There’s a lot to do in a little amount of time. Whenever possible, pack school lunches at night and have everyone’s bags ready to go. You could also go as far as laying out clothes for the following day. Some busy parents also find it easier to shower at night, rather than during the busy morning.
- Meal planning: It’s hard to think about making a nutritious meal after you’ve spent all day at work, caring for kids, and attending after-school activities. Taking one day a week to choose recipes for the week ahead and making your ingredients list, can help take the stress out of dinnertime. A crockpot or pressure cooker can be your best friend in this instance. There’s nothing better than throwing all your ingredients in a crockpot and having your food ready for you when you get home. Another option for busy families is to take a weekend to make a month’s (that’s right, a month!) worth of freezer meals—all you have to do is thaw and serve!
- Don’t overdo it on afterschool commitments: There are so many fun activities to enroll our kids in—gymnastics, swim lessons, soccer, aerial arts, nature clubs!—that it’s easy to overschedule them and yourself. Often parents find that keeping it to 1 or 2 activities per kid per school year is more than enough for everyone. Sharing transportation responsibilities with another parent often helps, especially if you work various shifts.
- The buddy system: Find yourself some trustworthy, reliable fellow parents to help with carpooling, and childcare trade offs so you can run errands, and, of course, for the occasional coffee date to unwind. Starting a Facebook group for the parents in your child’s class is also a great way to meet other parents and schedule play dates.
- Make time to care for yourself: It’s important to take some time for yourself each day. Studies have shown that even 5 minutes per day of meditation can help reduce stress and increase concentration. Find a quiet place to sit, or lay down. Close your eyes and breathe naturally, noticing your breath. For more meditation tips, visit http://how-to-meditate.org. You could also use your time to talk a walk in nature, or connect with a friend.
Investing time and energy in yourself fills your cup, so that you can more easily meet the responsibilities and experience the joy of parenting.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at email@example.com
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