A Psychologist Shares Her Top Tips For Staying Sane At Back to School Time
If, like many of us out there, you’ve jumped headlong into a different pace of life since the school return, and you’re wondering how to balance work and life, here are some top tips to help the adjustment go more smoothly.
1. Get a family calendar and map out who goes where, when. New schedules and new after school activities will become far easier to manage if everyone can see what’s coming next, clearly mapped out.
2. Once a week, with an eye to the week ahead do a weekly food shop online. This should include extra food for playdates, specific items of lunch preferences, and allowances for any extra entertaining you might be doing yourselves this coming week. Cutting down on mid-week trips to the shops will help with the feelings of over-business. You can plan your shop in line with a weekly food plan.
3. Each night before bed, lay out clothes to be worn, bags to be brought, letters to be returned, etc. Ensure you have everything together before that alarm clock rings in the early hours!
4. If appropriate set up a school run for some week/s days of the week. Sharing the load will minimise the business you experience, and make drop-offs and pick-ups more fun for the kids who will have more friends in tow.
5. When having playdates, consider taking a few kids at a time. This not only make for a more lively and fun afternoon but also buys you more time when the multiple playdates are being returned! This is especially useful if you have a few kids at home, and you are trying to juggle multiple diaries. Just be careful to manage the different personalities at play, and don’t have the bossiest kids and the shiest kids over together!
6. Don’t over schedule. Allow some white space on the calendar! We live in a rush-rush world where we often feel the need to fill the days, but research shows that taking regular rest breaks, and allowing children to entertain themselves in an unstructured way is to everyone’s benefit.
7. Delegate small and age appropriate tasks to others in the family; setting the table, hanging out washing, whatever the case may be. Involving others will not only build their sense of independence and citizenship, but it will steadily decrease the job load on parents.
8. Bulk buy vouchers or age appropriate gifts for parties. Don’t be afraid to have the kids make the cards and wrapping at home, to cut down on costs and your time input. Encouraging group birthday parties at your school is a sure fire way to please all involved.
9. If you are working outside of the home, try to, at least on some days, have childcare in place that will allow a little flexibility for drop-off and pick-up times. This is just so you don’t feel under huge pressure to get into and out of work, on a specific minute of the hour. Neither work nor home life benefits from the pressure we feel or the focus we can apply, as we feel those last minutes ticking by at work when trying to meet a deadline, and conscious of the onus being on us to get the kids.
10. If it all gets too much, and better yet before it does, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether that’s getting help with household cleaning, or circulating playdates within a group to ensure that you get an afternoon a week to yourself( or whatever the arrangement might be) -make sure that it never gets to the stage where it feels too much.
Our resident Organisational Psychologist, Coach, and Mum, Leisha McGrath is here to answer your burning questions on returning to work from maternity leave and how to achieve a healthy work/life balance.
Do you have a question for Leisha? Send us an email in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website, lma.ie.