Column: Avoiding stress during the school year

Natalie Webster

By Natalie Webster
Natalie Webster is a columnist, blogger, podcaster and Lake Minnetonka resident. You can follow Natalie Webster and more of her area adventures by visiting NatalieWebster.com.

The start of a new school year signals the start of a new beginning in many ways for school-aged kids everywhere. Freshly sharpened pencils that have never touched a clean sheet of paper will be tucked away in backpacks, ready to be tools employed during the learning process.

There are no detention slips, bad grades or good grades for that matter. The slate has been wiped clean and the canvas is blank. Our children return to school to begin a new grade and a new adventure.

Back to school also signals a new beginning for parents. I’ve always thought of it as the New Year’s Eve of parenting. It’s a time for self-reflection and resolutions. The slate is wiped clean for us as well.

If you were blindsided by projects or school events last year, if you got your kids to school late to the point where it was embarrassing, this is your opportunity to start fresh and new, just like our kids.

When you are getting your kids ready to go back to school, think about how you can set yourself up for success as a parent during the school year, just as we work to set them up for success by making sure they have what they need to start the school year.

Each school district puts out a calendar for the school year before school even starts. Grab it and mark all holidays, non-school days, late starts, early releases, etc. on your own calendar. This way you won’t have your kid show up to the bus stop for a bus that isn’t coming because it’s one of the many non-school days that aren’t a holiday. It won’t take you long to do and you can even catch an episode as your favorite show as you are putting it all in your calendar.

Reflect back on where any stress came from the year before. Did your home life resemble the running of the bulls on school days just to get everyone out the door on time? Take this time to figure out how to get more organized to set yourselves up for success on school mornings. It could be as simple as having the kids make sure all their backpacks, assignments, shoes and winter gear are by the door the night before a school day. This eliminates the stress and confusion of having to search your house like an FBI agent during a raid looking for a gym uniform or math homework.

Were evenings stressful because you had to monitor homework, make dinner and get one or more kids off to sports? I have two kitchen tools that are game changers when it comes to meals. My slow cooker and my pressure cooker make meals easy, seamless and keep us eating healthy as well. No burning rubber through a drive-thru while tossing a container of fries to the kids in the backseat.

Another time saving tool for me is the Instacart app. I pay a small monthly fee to have someone else do my grocery shopping. I’m also saving money, even with the monthly fee, because I buy way less when I’m not in the store.

When I run out of almond butter, I immediately put it in my cart via the app. When I’m ready to place a grocery order I do so and get it the same day, usually within a few hours. They deliver your groceries to your door. My neighbor and her family of six were flying home from a vacation to a house with no food in it. She used the airplane’s Wi-Fi to log in, ordered her groceries and had them waiting at her door step when they got home from the airport.

Did your schedule during the last school year make you feel like a contestant conquering an obstacle course on Ninja Warrior because kids had to go from school, to music lessons and to soccer to tutors? Be smart about what you sign your kids up for. You, as the adult, are in charge of the schedules in your household. Create a schedule that sets you all up for success. Not just your children, but you the parents as well.

Rushing from activity to activity is no way to live. Life should be about quality not quantity.
Child Protective Services are not going to take your kids away because you said no to doing two sports at one time.

As you get your kids ready to go back to school and be successful, remember to also set yourselves up for success as parents.