With the back-to-school season well underway, we’re taking a look at how families can use this time to reset and shape new routines to prevent burnout
Just like that, the summer holidays are over and as we see the beginnings of autumn, we also see children returning to school. Despite the buzz in the air from the kids, it can also be a time of doubt for parents who are faced with the dreaded early starts and school runs - and that’s all before they start their own working day.
It’s six o'clock and you’ve probably grabbed your first of many coffees that’ll get you through the morning. After ushering everyone out of bed and trying to get them ready, you’re faced with the great breakfast debate - who’s having what cereal and in what coloured bowl? Hair, teeth, coats, bags, shoes, and a whirlwind of multitasking later, you’re finally ready to head out the door for the school run until… “I need the toilet!” All before 8:30am.
As exciting as it can be watching your child grow, the back-to-school season can also be a time of heightened emotions for parents. The truth is, after a long summer and perhaps a lovely family holiday, the struggle of going back to work is real, let alone doing the school run too. Upon returning to work, you might be expected to remain positive and breezy, when actually you’ve already faced your battles for the day and it’s not even 9am.
Luckily, there are some things you can do as a family that can help ease the hustle and bustle of the school morning routine.
Tips for resetting your school routine
1. Plan ahead
This seems easier said than done. The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is get everything sorted for the following morning, but your mind and body will thank you for it.
Try to establish an early evening routine before you wind down for some much-needed family time by gathering everything you and the kids need for the following day - does homework need to be completed? Make sure school bags are packed, lunch boxes are at the ready and you could even set out plates, bowls, and cutlery in time for breakfast.
You might also want to leave coats, bags, and shoes at the front door to save time (and the panic of trying to find that one missing shoe buried at the back of the cupboard). To really make the most of it, encourage the children to get involved in the evening routine, such as making lunchboxes together. This will not only give them some independence but also allows you to spend time with them catching up on their day.
2. Meal plan
The above also applies to preparing dinners. Batch cooking is a great way to ensure the whole family is getting hearty, nutritious meals at a fraction of the time it would normally take to cook them. You could spend some time at the weekend thinking about what you’d like to eat that week and store it in the freezer. This makes for a quick and easy way to whip up dinner for the whole family, whilst still allowing for ‘you time’.
Struggling for inspiration? Try these batch-bake recipes.
Throughout the week, make sure you prioritise doing the things that really need to be done, and toss those that can wait to the side. The easiest way to keep track of this is by writing a to-do list. Maybe you need to do the laundry or have been putting off booking your MOT?
Where possible, you can also ask for help from the kids - like encouraging them to put their clothes away or tidy their room. As a working parent with a family, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got everything done you’d hoped. Prioritising allows you to feel like you’re keeping on top of things whilst stopping your physical and mental health from being overloaded.
In this video, Dr Julie Smith discusses everyday ways to manage stress and prevent burnout.
4. Schedule downtime
The school holidays are over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t switch off and relax. In fact, ensuring you’re still taking time out to spend with your family and to care for yourself is one of the most effective ways you can look after your wellbeing and support a healthy work/life balance.
Ensuring we’re well rested allows our internal batteries to recharge and refocus and keeps you feeling energised and motivated. Taking time out doesn't just have to mean relaxing in front of the TV or having a bubble bath. You might want to go for a walk, read for half an hour, or do some meditation. Perhaps your family has a TV programme you all like to watch together or you enjoy a games night? Make time for quality time.
5. Be honest
Remember to acknowledge that being a parent is a full-time job in itself. If you’re struggling to stay productive at work or feeling like you’re lacking energy, (particularly if you're going back to the office after working at home) talk to your boss or colleagues. You won’t be the only one feeling this way at this time of the year.
Try to take these tips into the workplace - planning your time and prioritising your workload. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s best to speak up about it sooner rather than waiting until you’re completely burnt out.
By resetting your back-to-school routine, the morning mayhem will hopefully be a little calmer. The goal here is to think of time-saving tricks that’ll get you out the door in as stress-free a way as possible. That’s not to say it’ll always go to plan - life happens - but it will make the transition from the Summer holidays easier.
If you still feel as though you’re missing structure in your day, you could consider reaching out to a life coach. Life coaches can offer support in a variety of areas, including burnout, families, and work/life balance and can help you navigate the new school year.
- Tips to help yourself out of burnout
- Read more on parental burnout
- Mind - Dealing with burnout
- Navigating back-to-school with Childline
- Resources to help school transitions - Young Minds