I remember back when I was pregnant with my second son, everyone kept telling me how easy it would be having two children. They made promises that I would never even notice that the second child was there! Well, they lied. Our lives took on a whole new level of chaos after his birth but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Our family and work schedules have become more complicated over time, especially with both my husband and I working full time. It has been always important to us to commit non-work time to our family and to our children’s interests. At one point this became too out of control. One child wanted to join multiple sports leagues, I committed to Parent Council and took on the President role, my husband was helping coach soccer, and the list never seemed to end. We were splitting at the seams but didn’t know what to do. So we took a step back and decided to let go of the things that did not help us as a family and developed some tactics to control the remaining chaos.
Here is what we did to help calm the crazy school months, extra curricular sports and just life in general!
Choose the important events, clubs, sports and let the rest go. Life is overwhelming enough as it is without overbooking yourself. We limit both of our children to one extracurricular activity per a season and this has worked out very well for us. It allows us to commit to family events and travel without feeling any sense of regret for letting a team down or missing games. It took me a long time to realize that my children did not have to participate in every sport or activity. Once I let this idea go, I realized not only was I happier, but so were my kids. The other events and groups were just fillers that we had allowed ourselves to feel pressured into joining. Our family time came first and once we started putting this back into focus we were happier as a family.
Write it down! I am a visual person and I need everything written down in several spots in order to keep track of upcoming appointments, events and games. I make sure I have a running calendar on the fridge, one in my purse, as well as a monthly “to-do” checklist. These to-do items range from oil changes to dentist and vet appointments. If I don’t track them down, these smaller items can be so easily forgotten. Since I am such a visual person, I also colour coordinate all my calendar items. I know this may seem silly (I endure lots of teasing at work!) but when I glance from far away I know if that item on the calendar is for me, the children, the dog, a birthday or money due. For us colour coordinating the items really helps keep track of appointments.
If you are a smartphone addict, download helpful apps. My personal favourite downloadable app is Cozi (available for Android and iOS). Cozi has a free option as well as a paid option. In this app, you can set appointments, to-do reminders as well as send email reminders to household members. So if your spouse can’t remember their appointments, this sure comes in handy!
Take time out for you. This is one of the most important things that you can do – and as Mothers we tend to forget to do. ‘Me time’ is just as important as your children’s medical appointments or sports activities. You can’t be the person you want (or need) to be if you feel overwhelmed. I like to book in monthly massages (which I am lucky enough to have covered by my health benefits), but if you don’t have coverage look at joining a women’s book group, fitness or walking group, or just taking time out daily to go for a walk alone. You will come back feeling re-charged and ready to face anything!
Life is so hectic and every month seems busier than the next. Adding in extra steps to help keep you organized (as well as the ability to say no) will help you keep calm and stress free through the busy school months.