Fall is coming. School has already started for some and is still to begin for others. Often times fall can be a major source of stress, especially for moms. New activities starting, homework, car pools, religious education, and on and on. So what’s a busy family to do? Here are some tips that have helped me through the transition from summer to fall and beyond.
Always, always, always have a meal plan. You must always know what’s for dinner. I try to keep at least one or two meals that I’ve made ahead on hand per week and know exactly what I’m having the other nights. I write it all down so I can be sure to have everything that I need in the house. I used to post the meal schedule on the refrigerator but that just became a cause for complaint when it was something that someone didn’t like. Now I keep it in the back of my planner and refer to it often.
Do as much as you can the night before so you aren’t rushing in the morning. As a homeschool family we usually aren’t rushing out the door except on co op days but I still like to get the upper hand on things like dishes, laundry, coffee prep (my dear husband almost always does this!), and just generally picking up the house. I hate waking up to a messy house and really hate waking up to a messy kitchen. It starts my day off on a bad note every time. If we do have to go somewhere I try to make sure everyone has their clothes laid out, backpacks ready, and all other necessities ready. I turn into “mean, ugly mom” when we have to rush. No one wants to start their day with mean, ugly mom. Trust me.
Make prayer/reading time a priority. I begin my day with the rosary before I ever even make it downstairs. Then we come together for morning devotions. Throughout the day I have alarms set so I remember to stop and pray. I have spiritual reading that I have committed to daily and I do all that I can to make that happen. Without my prayer time my days just don’t go as well. I know as busy moms it can seem daunting to add one more thing but this is THE most important thing. With technology it’s easy to listen to the rosary, listen to the podcast of Divine Mercy, even listen to audible for our reading time. However you do it just make sure that you do it. My prayer time is rarely alone and doesn’t involve heavy meditation but it does bring graces that are like oxygen to my life.
Make sure everyone knows what their chores are. Most moms I know tend to think they have to do everything themselves but that isn’t so. Kids as little as 5 years old can wipe things down and help empty the dishwasher. If they can run and iPad they can help with chores. In our house we have “domains” that each child has to attend to. Sometimes the new school year can bring about a transition in domains due to times home, activities, some starting college or new jobs. However you do it just make sure everyone knows what they need to do so that it gets done.
Remember to make time for your spouse! With soccer games and dance classes we can sometimes push our time with our spouse aside but that’s a bad president to set (and a bad example for our kids). Even if it’s just a walk around the block or a quick board game don’t forget to spend time with your spouse every day! If you have access to babysitters a date night once a week is a great idea. It need not be expensive. Subscribing to some restaurant email lists can provide you with good coupons or sharing an appetizer, getting a treat from the dollar menu at McDonald’s, or any number of things can easily be done together and is very important. Don’t forget to pray together everyday. Marriage Prayers Today (http://marriageprayers.today/) provides a new prayer each day right to your email. My husband and I do these over the phone each morning.
Fill in your calendar but try not to think too far ahead or you may panic. I try to enter super important things (weddings, etc) right away but the rest I don’t go too far out. Maybe a month at a time. Otherwise I’m obsessing about how I won’t have a free Wednesday night (our religious ed night) until 2035. That can feel stressful.
Don’t be afraid to say no. With 12 children we have had to say no to a lot of things that the kids wanted to do or that others wanted us to do. We can’t financially afford it but perhaps more importantly we can’t afford to be running around like crazy people and having our family splintered all over the county. Family dinners are very important to me. Don’t mess with my family dinner time. I absolutely refuse to raise my babies and toddlers in car seats or on sports fields. Maybe that’s a good fit for some but it isn’t for me. If I start to feel panicked I pray about whether or not I should be agreeing to certain activities. Even if the kids are disappointed we feel that the kids need to learn that as a family we decide on what to do based on how it affects our family as a whole. I think it’s a valuable lesson to learn in this “me first” society.
So there are my favorite tips as we head into our new school year. While they work for me they may not be a perfect fit for you. Tweak what you need to in order to make it work for your family. May God bless your new school year and don’t forget to take time to count your blessings and joys.