4 Smart Habits for a Low-Stress School Year

I’m not going to mince words—after ten weeks of a very full summer vacation with my kids (five are out of or in college, three to go!) I’m quite ready for the new school year to begin. Some might find me to be a bit of a party pooper, but I know there are many, many families who feel the same way. As much as we adore having our kids home for that much needed summer R&R, we are also ready to embrace an exciting new year of learning and other school-related adventures after having our kids surrounding us 24/7 for the past month and a half.

The start of the new school year is a fresh start, for both kids and parents alike! Change is in the air as we transition from the lazy days of summer to the more structured days of the school year, which grounds us with routines and strucutre that come hand in hand with the change in seasons and a more regulated rhythm to our daily plans.

Transitioning from summer to school can be both exciting and overwhelming. That doesn’t have to be the case, however, if you start the school year off with the right set of tools. Mighty Mommy has done the back-to-school transition for over 20 years now, and each one gets easier. Here are four smart habits your family can incorporate early on to make for a successful and low-stress school year.

  1. Have an A+ Morning Routine
  2. Earn Extra Credit the Night Before
  3. Revamp Your Language  (Stay Positive)
  4. Simplify Schedules

Let’s explore each in more detail.

If there’s one piece of parenting advice I would share on a regular basis, it would definitely be the importance of incorporating routines into your daily life. Routines are a parent’s best friend. Our kids thrive on expectations. Whether it’s knowing they have to clean up their toys every night before bed or that they have to brush their teeth after breakfast and before catching the bus—it’s a huge source of comfort to them (young and old alike) to know what they are expected to accomplish each and every day.

Sure, they might voice their displeasure that they have to put their own laundry away before supper, but deep down they feel secure knowing that they need to accomplish certain tasks as part of your family’s ebb and flow each day.

Routines don’t just happen, they are created. Kick off this new school year with an A+ expectation of calm and serenity by creating an effective morning routine for your family.

The year I got myself out of bed about 25 minutes earlier than my family was the year we all moved to the head of the class. I was able to get myself centered and peaceful before the rest of the house awoke, which set the tone for the rest of the day. When you and your kids leave the house without scurrying for backpacks, lunches, searching for homework assignments and car keys, the rest of your day simply falls with less happiness and a lot more good energy.

Check out my episode 6 Key Ingredients For A Successful Morning Routine for more ideas on constructing a solid start to your day.

Equally as imperative as your morning routine, I can’t stress how important it is to be organized the night before your school day as well.

The constants in our school kids’ lives seem to be: sports and extra-curricular practices and activities, homework and school projects, and managing social lives. Oh, and of course, we—the parents—have our own work commitments and schedules, the upkeep of our homes, grocery shopping (very important!), and managing our own personal relationships and healthy lifestyles.

If you want to have an effective, easy-breezy morning routine, you must set the stage the night before with your evening routine.

Selecting outfits the night before as well as making school lunches will cut your morning hassle in half each day.

Don’t forget about keeping homework struggles at bay. By simply designating a homework station for your kids for the school year, and checking in with them at the beginning of the school week to see what assignments and projects are due, you can save your entire family many homework headaches!

Get your family into the habit of staying on task the night before school, and everyone, especially you, will wake up with a sunny disposition throughout the school year.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that my nickname, Pollyanna, is pretty true to form. When life hands me lemons, I’ve always been fortunate to turn them into lemonade. Part of that comes from sheer nature. Growing up, and even now as a 50-something mom of eight kids, I’ve somehow had the ability to find the silver lining in even the darkest of clouds.

Although we raised a very large family, and we may not have lived in the largest and prettiest home, or worn high-end designer label clothing, or had the ability to afford ivy-league colleges, our strong work ethic and desire to do the best we could for our family helped to provide a very comfortable lifestyle for all of them. When we divorced six years ago, we still managed to keep our children’s lives as normal and filled with as much love as possible.

If you want to give your family the best gift ever at the start of this new school year for absolutely no cost at all, maintain a positive outlook and choose your words carefully. Kids ultimately want to please their parents and caregivers. I’ve referred to this example in several of my podcasts, but it was so life-changing for me, I feel it’s important to share once more.

Nearly 15 years ago, I was watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey. It was a parenting segment and although I don’t recall the guest she had on, the information I gleaned was priceless.

The guest said that the best gift you can give your child is to acknowledge him/her when they walk into the room. In other words, when you and your child see one another for the first time after your school/work day—make eye contact! Smile! Let them know how important they are in your life.

Sadly, it’s all too common to be texting on our cell phones or be caught up in a television program when our kids re-enter our lives each day. That doesn’t have to be the case this school year, however!

Intend to set a very positive habit this new school year by lighting up when you see your child at the end of each school day. Even better, choose your language more carefully. Kids strive to receive positive feedback and affirmations from their parents. Check out 5 Ways to Speak Positively to Children so you can be armed and ready with lots of kindness all year long.

If there’s one thing the majority of today’s families have in common it’s that we’re all overscheduled.

I’ll be brief here. If you want to ease the tension and craziness you usually endure throughout the school year, make the commitment to scale back on signing up for everything that comes down the pike. Easier said than done, I know, but today’s families are all lacking one common bond—more together time.

Take it from me, mother of eight: the years you get to spend raising your kids go by in a blink.

Make this the school year you pledge to reconnect with your family (and spouse!). If this means cutting back on one or two scheduled activities so be it. Simplify your schedules now and the remainder of the school year will score you a perfect report card.

Visit 6 Ways to Take Back Family Time for more ideas.

How do you kick off the new school year? Share your thoughts in the comment section atquickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommyor post your ideas on theMighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me onTwitter @MightyMommy or email me atmommy@quickanddirtytips.com.

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