The start of a new school year and the changing of seasons always bring about feelings of change and ambition in myself. I always start the summer well intentioned to cut our screen time, wake up before the heat, spend our time doing fun family activities and we do. But we always slide back into what’s easy and comfortable- sleeping in, a little extra tv or video games, a little less time reading and even less playing outside.
Not all of these are necessarily bad, and I’m certainly not talking about cutting out the occasional sleeping in on a lazy Sunday morning, but we as a family thrive on having some sort of routine.
My goals are mainly for myself. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, I am the household manager. If I am organized, efficient and productive, my little ducklings tend to follow suit. We’ve all heard “If mama ain’t happy…”, well these are designed to make this mama happy- and create a calm, organized, haven for my littles to come home to.
Big picture, my goals are to cut the screen time (and I’m mainly talking to myself here!) and be more organized, and most importantly, to truly engage and be present. How do I plan to make this happen?
Less Screen Time
The kids have had fairly established rules for quite awhile when we’re in school. They aren’t allowed to have any before school, and just a few minutes to unwind after they get home. I plan to enforce turning everything off at 4pm and putting all phones on the counter so we won’t be tempted- mom included! During the day I still have my youngest at home, and she needs a mom who isn’t attached to her phone too. I plan to give myself a little time in the morning to catch up with my coffee, and then it goes on the counter as well.
Wake Up Early
This is an especially hard one for me. I love to sleep. And I hate getting out of my warm cozy bed in the morning. But if I’m up early enough to get myself ready, or even just to enjoy my coffee, I feel so much better about the day. My school kids are capable of getting themselves up and ready, and even pack their own lunches, but I want to be present. Creating a peaceful morning sets the tone for their day as well as mine.
I haven’t decided exactly how much structure I want to put into each day, but just the act of writing down what I want to accomplish daily helps me to be a bit more focused and productive. My plan is to carve a few minutes of time on Sunday evening to loosely plan out the week. Activities, appointments, household tasks, work, renovation jobs will all be written down in one place to reference throughout the week. And just as important as I think a schedule is, it is even more important for that schedule to be flexible. There’s no way we are missing out on a coffee or play date because I’m supposed to be cleaning toilets that morning! Toilet scrubbing will still be on the list, but can wait and get squeezed in for the afternoon, or even another day that week.
I can’t tell you how many times last year we forgot to sign planners, left lunches in the fridge, and had papers sitting in our backpacks for weeks. My 9 year old needs extra help staying organized, and while I like to think of myself as a fairly organized person, the truth is that I’m just not. A better after school routine will help us both to do much better in this area, and will help me to do better at my primary goal- being engaged and present, even and especially in the ordinary moments. As simple as it sounds, I need to follow through on backpack and planner “inspections” after school. We’re starting the conversation about their day the moment they walk through the door, rather than waiting for dinner when half of the day is a distant memory. We easily fall into the “how was your day?” trap- rather than “tell me about your day”, and I need good starter questions to learn more about what happens when they are away from us for so many hours.
I recently came across something that resonated with me- we only have 18 summers with our babies. My oldest is 12 and I’m realizing just how quickly these years fly by, and I want to slow down and make the most of them. I’m starting this new school year with some new resolutions, care to join me?