How moms can take care of themselves in the back-to-school rush
As summer winds down, moms do a lot to get their kids ready for school: They buy the school supplies and lay out the clothes, they adjust the bedtimes and pack the lunches, they talk about teachers and rules and how to be a good friend. And they fill out the forms. So. Many. Forms.
Moms put in a lot of effort because they want the new school year to be positive and exciting for their kids. But it’s also important to take care of yourselves, even during the busy back-to-school season. Here are ways moms—especially single moms—can make September a calmer, healthier and happier time for the whole family.
Don’t go cold turkey
Summer is a magical time when bedtimes and morning routines often don’t exist. For many children, summer is a stream of camps and daycare, play dates and playgrounds, treats and late nights. For kids and for moms, returning to a regular school schedule can be a shock to the system. Instead of waiting for the first day of school, consider easing out of your summer schedule a week ahead of time. Stick to a routine for bedtimes, wake-up and meal times. This will help your bodies and minds adjust before they have to and make the first week of school easier for everyone.
Lighten the load
A new school year means new activities and commitments. There are often a lot of calls for parent volunteers at school events, in classroom, with extra-curricular activities, clubs and teams. Be realistic about what you commit to. Remember: the school year is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t take on a heavy load that will leave you feeling exhausted in a couple of months. Some moms may even want to decline any additional responsibilities or commitments if your children need extra support for the start of school, so you can focus on making their transition as positive and peaceful as possible.
A great way to reduce stress is to get organized. Packing lunches and laying clothes out the night before can make mornings much smoother. Create a calendar to post on the fridge so kids can see their activities, along with your work schedule and commitments. This will give children a sense of confidence about what’s happening each day and allows them to take responsibility to prepare the items they need. Create cubbies to keep lunch bags, school supplies and any items your kids may need for activities.
Sometimes moms put off self-care because they feel bad taking time away from their kids. But we can change our perspective! Instead, try to see self-care as a way to set a positive example. You are important and deserve to be taken care of, too. By taking time for yourselves, you are re-energizing for whatever comes your way and being a better parent for your children.
Parenting is a challenge in two-parent families, let alone for a single mom. Try to create supportive friendships and relationships to share the load—take turns carpooling to activities or walking children to school. Get your groceries delivered. Plan to trade babysitting with a friend so you can both have a night off once in a while. Access community resources and supports if you need them.
If you’re a single mom living in Metro Vancouver, considering connecting with a YWCA Single Mothers’ Support Group. They are a great way to meet other single moms and connect with resources and supports in your community. The groups meet weekly and free child care is provided. Our members see the group as an incredibly helpful tool to help them take time for themselves, to be heard and to learn skills to become an even better parent.
For more information on YWCA Single Mothers’ Support Services please contact Joann McKinlay at firstname.lastname@example.org | 604 895 5849
Jennifer Bateman is the Program Coordinator for YWCA Single Mother’s Support Services