I work with many clients who are parents to younger children. Now that the summer is coming to an end, many parents are feeling the back to school chaos of balancing their morning with getting themselves to work and their children to school. My job as their clinical therapist is to provide a sense of sympathy and validation that balancing the chaos of their children and their job can be incredibly overwhelming. I then also attempt to provide appropriate clinical coping recommendations to make their lives feel a little less overwhelming with balancing both their professional and parenting life.
I recently read an article from Fast Company that touched on this very topic, “5 ways to improve morning chaos now that the kids are back at school” by author Gwen Moran. According to a recent Herbalife One Poll Survey, 57% of parents reported that the back to school season is the most stressful and 60% reported to lose sleep during the season.
Below are the 5 key ingredients Moran describes in her article that makes the chaos feel less chaotic.
- Prepare ahead of time. Pratibha Vuppuluri, chief blogger at She Started It!, a blog for working mothers, suggests the more you prepare ahead of time, the less chaos the morning will bring you. This can simply look like creating a list in the evening of things to do in the morning. It can also look like laying out your children’s clothes, preparing their lunches, and maybe even checking their bookbags to make sure their homework wasn’t eaten by the family dog! Maybe even planning ahead on Sundays with your child of which meals they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and doing some meal prepping with them.
- Organizational techniques. Your child’s school likely sends home a number of paperwork. Some things may need to be signed, some may be upcoming field trips, and some may be homework assignments to go over with your child. Separating the piles into three specific piles can be helpful: stays at home, needs a signature, and homework. While children attempt to be responsible, depending on their age, a lot of things can go missing if you don’t check their book bag once they get home from school, especially the younger children.
- Routines. Routines and rituals are not only helpful for adults but also instilling them with children can help them develop organizational skills at a young age. Time blocked morning planners can also be helpful for the parents to allow them to divide up times in the mornings into different categories. For example, preparing for breakfast, cleaning up food, checking bookbags, etc. It can also be helpful if you empower your child to help with the to do lists and even divide it up with your spouse as well.
- Predict obstacles. If you have an age gap between your little ones, let’s say one is 8 years old but the younger one is 2 years old, it can be very distracting as the 2-year-old may need more attention from you depending on their mood. Anticipating things may not go as smoothly as planned is helpful, and sometimes even thinking proactively of a Plan B in case not everything goes as planned. For example, if your child misses their bus, who is going to take them?
- No one is perfect. Even with this simple guide of things you can do to be proactive with making the morning less chaotic, remind yourself that no one is perfect. There are likely going to be mornings where everything seems to go poorly. Not only is that okay, it is completely normal, as life can be chaotic from time to time. Remember to practice self-compassion with yourself, in other words, all you can do is your personal best, even on the days that are overwhelming!
If you are currently struggling with feeling overwhelmed with parenting, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.