Let’s face it: there’s no way to perfectly organize your life. Unpredictable X-factors will always abound—traffic, tantrums and that professional development day you forgot about. But there are some basic principles you can use to set yourself up for success as the school year starts.
Take it easy on activities
Set aside some time to really think about how much you commit to in terms of sports, lessons and other activities for the kids. This is the single most important aspect of creating a family life that feels manageable. No system, app or family calendar is going to make life work if it’s over capacity.
It’s easy to add more activities every year, especially as your child progresses through a sport they really like—for example—and the commitment increases. The problem comes when we don’t take a sober second look at whether there’s still time for piano.
Keep yourself in the mix
While you’re busy filling in your family calendar, put your own indoor soccer, yoga, running clinic or watercolor painting class on there. Get back in touch with things you were passionate about in your youth. You need it to stay healthy and happy.
It can be helpful for children to see us modeling a lifestyle that isn’t all about catering to them. So register for that spin class, establish a monthly night out with friends and get date night on the calendar. If we show our kids that we make time for ourselves despite being busy, they may be more likely to practice good self-care and make time for relationships when they’re all grown up.
Make a meal plan
Yes, you’ve heard it before, but there’s no surer way to reduce weekday stress than to know ahead of time what’s for dinner. None of us wants to wait in line at the express checkout in the company of a couple of cranky kids with nothing to do but stare longingly at the chocolate bars. And there’s nothing that makes life feel more out of control than a nightly scramble to feed a family.
Spend a little time mapping out Monday-through-Friday dinners before you get groceries on the weekend. You’ll be glad you did—not just for the checkout lines and drive-through lines that you’ll avoid, but also for the opportunity that family dinners give us to be together.
Expect more from your kids
We’ve gotten so busy ferrying our kids everywhere that many of us are forgetting to teach our kids to do basic household tasks that they need to know to function in the world—and that, in the meantime, could lighten your load at home. Take school lunches, for example. Even kindergarteners can select snacks from a low, accessible cupboard or bin, while preteens should be able to make a complete lunch.