Back to School and Back to YOU!

I hope you and yours are settling into a routine and schedule with the start of the school year! For my family, the summer was a mix of travel, work and spending time with each other. The one thing that seemed to be on the back burner for me-writing-as I have been all consumed with work and kiddos.

Living in Rhode Island, also known as the Ocean State with 400+miles of coastline, historically in the summer, many of my clients take a break from counseling, spending more time at the beach than therapy. This summer, the opposite was true! In ten years of practice in the Ocean State, I have never been busier in the office than this past summer. I think its a micro-reflection of the stressed and anxious world we’re living in. And, at home, my twin teenagers started working this summer a few days a week ushering in a new chapter in our family life! The ending of the summer is always a little bittersweet, grateful to be back in a routine, overwhelmed yet another year has gone by (it’s so true-the days are long but the years are short) and buckling in for the stress the academic year brings to the calendar.

Although it has yet to be anything but routine the start of the school year has been a bit chaotic-three days of early dismissal due to heat and three holidays in the first few weeks translating into only two full days of school so far!!!

I have come to accept September is a month of transition and adjustment requiring a lot of patience and flexibility.

My mantra every September: Breathe-expect the unexpected-breathe-be flexible. (Repeat, repeat, repeat).

I am sure you can relate!

For many moms, the transition from summer to the school year feels more like the actual start of a New Year compared to January. Which is why I believe September is a perfect time for mamas to pause in the midst of chaos as a routine sets in, and reflect on what you need to do for yourself to feel healthy, happy, rested and restored. Because I know I am not alone juggling the challenges of summer and self-care. And one way to head into the year strong caring for your family is to have a plan to take care of you!

This time of year is an excellent time for reflection, goal setting and creating a habit of self-care-prioritizing you! Here are a few ways to use September as a month to jump start your self-care routine.

1. Reflect on What’s Working and Missing. Take a few minutes and ask yourself-What do I need to feel healthy, rested and happy each day? Is there something that you once did to take care of yourself that has been missing from your routine? Take an inventory of what’s working as well as what’s missing from your routine.

For me, writing is an act of self-care, and this summer, it was scarce! I noticed I was not feeling like myself, as if something was missing. As the summer progressed, my inability to find the time to write and be creative left me irritable and stressed. My self-care goal this month has been to get back to writing. Thankfully, I am in the routine again!

2. Keep it Simple, Add in Self-Care Every Day. Self-care for busy moms needs to fit into family life, demands, and schedules. Self-care that is unattainable or unrealistic ends up feeling more stressful and like a chore. Start with finding fifteen minutes a day to do something that brings you happiness and restoration. Perhaps it’s starting your morning before the kids get up to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, or pausing at lunch to make a mental note of all you are grateful for. Small steps and moments of self-care truly do add up to help improve overall well-being. My go-to this past week had been mindfully eating lunch without multi-tasking, and it has worked wonders! Simply eating and letting my mind wander, instead of scrolling on my phone, even if its only ten minutes, has boosted my creativity.

3. Take a Quiz. Interested in finding out how about your self-care and well-being? If so, take the free quiz I’ve developed, How is Your Well-Being and Self-Care to see how you are doing and get suggestions on what you can improve your self-care and well-being.

4. Manage Your Mental Load. One part of self-care is reducing the clutter, nagging thoughts, and mental load many moms are accustomed to running through their minds. It’s like a constant list of to-do’s and who needs what. And nothing can feel more jarring than going from the less structured days of summer into the demands of the academic year. Find ways to manage and take care of your mental load by getting nagging thoughts and lists from your mind onto paper or a calendar. One of my favorite things to do at the start of the school year is to get all the mental chatter of the schedules and obligations out of my head and put it into a calendar or list. I usually take an hour or so, sit down and take all of the activities, holidays and events for all the kids and near future, and make a spreadsheet and put it on the calendar. I share it with everyone, so the girls know where they need to be (and where everyone else is) each day. Taking the mental load and details from my mind onto paper and sharing it, doesn’t mean my work is done, but it makes the chatter and clutter in my mind a little quieter. Want to learn more about managing negative thoughts? If so, please read The Voices in Your Head: 14 Ways to Manage Negative Thinking.

5. Keep Perspective-You’re Not Alone! Find comfort that this time of year, we are all doing the best we can as we transition back to school and the intensity of after-school activities, carpools, games, events, open houses, and homework! It’s a lot, and you’re not alone! Be sure to reach out to friends and supportive people in your life to help you transition so you can help your family.

I’d love to hear your suggestions on how you manage the transition from summer to September, please share 🙂

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