5 Easy Ways to Start the School Year Without Losing Your Mind

As I try to soak up the last moments of summer fun, I feel like I’ll never be ready for the switch back to the routine of the school year.

I’m not sure who invented the lazy days of summer idea, but it wasn’t a mom. Summer is full of sun and beach and popsicles and more tv time than I care to admit. But it didn’t feel lazy. Now we’re on the cusp of a new school year, and the pressure is building.

All of a sudden a switch will be flipped and we’re supposed to find routine and structure again (which feels kind of like playing with that disastrous moon sand my kids love.) The sun is screaming “Stay and play” but the calendar is an annoying buzz in my ear challenging me to get it together because the clock is ticking.

The transition to a new school year doesn’t have to be complicated. You can have a great start to the school year with a few simple tricks. No, these tips will not complete the reams of paperwork headed your way during the first week of school, but they will help you feel better equipped to handle it.

1. Rest. Don’t skim past this. I know rest seems counterproductive and even impossible sometimes, but it will make a huge difference. My family knows a tired mom is not the nicest mom (at least in my house.)

Start thinking about what you can do now to feel more rested. Skip that last episode of your favorite show late at night. Give yourself permission to sit down for ten minutes in the afternoon. Do things that make your body and soul feel calmer and more rested. You’ll be able to tackle the change to school days more effectively. 

2. Eliminate. Think about the things you do. All of them. I know it’s a lot. Write them down. Now look at that list and cross off as many things as you can. Not that you’ve done them, but to eliminate them, at least temporarily. You can always add them back later.

Now that your list is smaller, look at what’s left. Instead of vacuuming three times per week, try twice. Skip the daily laundry and pick two days to do laundry each week so you’re not thinking about it every day. These ideas don’t need to be permanent, but they will help during the busy transition.

3. Autopilot. Put as much as you can on autopilot. My favorite place to do this is with food. Come up with a simple meal rotation by picking an easy thing for each night of the week. For example, salad night, chicken and veggie, burgers and corn, taco night, breakfast for dinner, pizza, and leftovers. Then rotate through for the next few weeks. Your grocery list will be the same, and you don’t have to think too hard or prep too much ahead of time. You can let this go after the first few weeks of school in favor of your favorite fall recipes. But it will save your sanity now.

Other things you can put on autopilot: morning and bedtime routines, easy breakfast and snack options, and 5 minutes a day for mail and paperwork.

4. Let Go. As much as I love finding fun ideas on Pinterest for magical first-day photos and perfectly curated bento box lunches complete with animal face mini sandwiches, it doesn’t help me stay sane. Instead, it makes the pressure build that I am responsible for making the new school year absolutely amazing.

We do not need school to be magical. We can let go of these expectations during the transition from summer to school, and give ourselves permission to try those things in a few weeks when we feel more grounded.

A happy, calm mom is more important than a sandwich shaped like an animal.

5. Grace. Let’s just say it right now – we’re going to drop the ball. It’s true. At some point, we’re going to miss something or turn in a form late. Last year I forgot to pick up my son’s inhaler from the nurse at the end of the school year. We all lose track of things sometimes. So, let’s start the year with a bit of grace for ourselves and one another.

Instead of beating ourselves up over getting the wrong color folder or forgetting to send a water bottle, let’s remember that we’re all here doing our best to love our kids well. And no folder or missed bus can change the way we love our kids.

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