10 Things Every Mama Needs to Survive Back-to-School
1. Tissues - HOW HAS TIME GONE THIS FAST?!
Wasn't it just yesterday you were born?! Wasn't it just yesterday we were singing lullabies instead of packing lunch boxes?! Wasn't it just yesterday we were potty training instead of using pull-ups?! Wasn't it just yesterday you were learning to crawl, then walk, instead of running to meet friends at recess?! I can't with how fast time is flying. Every little old lady who has ever looked at us at the park and said "Oh, cherish this, it all goes by so fast" was right. And you know what? I've always known they were right. But, amongst the chaos and the meltdowns, I've truly cherished every single second.
Tissues are an absolute necessity on the first day of school, because, as moms, we will cry. It's not a matter of if, just a matter of when. And guess what? THAT'S OKAY! Hi, it's called emotions, flashbacks, and a little memory slideshow plays in our heads from the day our babes were born to this moment, right here, dropping them off at school - whether it's to daycare, pre-K/T-K, the first day of kindergarten, a new grade, the first day of middle school, high school, or even college…WOAH. It's like, a lot. Cry. Ugly cry. Sniffle. Let it out. Waterproof makeup and tissues are your BFFs the first day of school.
2. Caffeine - Coffee, tea, chocolate.....take your pick
Whether you work part/full-time or are a SAHM, the earlier mornings and back-to-school hustle and bustle is real; real hectic, real exhausting, and real emotional. If coffee is your thing, fill 'er up. If decaf tea brings you some quiet peace before the kids are off, soak in an extra ten minutes snuggling up to a cup before your littles wake up (my fav tea brand is Buddha Teas out of Carlsbad, CA; yes they ship!) If tea and coffee aren't your jam, we won't judge you if you eat a Snickers bar for breakfast this week. #themotherhoodisreal, and saying goodbye to summer and hello to new teachers, new schools, and new growth is downright heart-tugging (even though giving our babes wings is the absolute best, strongest thing we can do)! Looking for a healthier chocolate item? Try our no-bake brekkie cookies.
3.. Lunchbox inspo...get your Pinterest on
Actually, since #momlife is hectic AF, we've got you...click here for all our quick + easy favorite lunchbox combos. Our hack? Make what you can the night before. Every single second counts in the morning; because we all know it can take ten years to get our littles to brush their teeth and find the missing shoe that a "monster" apparently ate overnight...
4. Sleep - ideally more than 7 hours
I hear sleep where you actually get REM exists in another world somewhere? Hint: the name doesn't start with an M (ahem, motherhood). Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can increase anxiety and increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes (National Institute of Health, 2018). Plus, a tired mama is no match for feisty, tired toddlers or kiddos. Your health literally depends on a good night's sleep, and so do your littles. Looking for tips to help improve your sleep habits? We've got you, Mama. Read our article, "Healthy Sleep Habits: How to Unwind the Mind before Bed" here.
5. A supportive and helpful partner and/or bestie, because, life is hard sending our little buddies back to school (or off for the first time!)...
We know husbands and partners don't always tap into their emotional side like we do as mamas, and that's okay. But, being in a healthy relationship means you feel supported, secure, and heard when you have needs. The first day of school is a big deal for both Dad and Mom (ok, especially moms; no shame), so go ahead and vent away, tell them you need a shoulder to cry on, need a distraction when the days feel long and quiet without your summer side-kicks, etc. Communicate your needs so your partner knows how to support you through this new phase of life. If you're a single mama, reach out to close friends and family; make sure people know to love on you extra right now! Back-to-school is a BIG. FREAKING. DEAL. especially when your "baby" is starting a new school or entering into kinder or middle school. Let them spread those wings, but hug them tight, too. #balance
6. Mom friends - community is everything
No one can relate to the ups and downs of motherhood like other moms. Period. They know what it looks like and feels like to be a mama, because they're one, too. Part of your heart grows outside of your body when you raise a tiny human, and it's something you feel deep into your bones. Having mom friends is like a breath of fresh air after a big thunderstorm - they give you life. Understanding. Comfort. I met a group of mom friends when my son was 6 months old, and our babies are all turning 5 this year; although a few of us have moved away, we still have a group text chain. Asking "Is this normal?" "Should I go to the doctor because of XYZ?" "Does this need stitches?" "Is this sleep regression normal?" "Do your husbands feel like roomies?" "What do I do with my ex doing ___" has become our norm. 24/7, they are there (because someone is always up at some point during the night). Having a solid mom group and community of moms behind you is the life support of motherhood. Looking for a community near you? Find a FIT4MOM near you here and read this article on the importance of community + mamahood.
7. Exercise - FIT4MOM, duh...
Regular movement is proven to increase mood, boost energy, combat health conditions and disease, promotes better sleep, and more (Healthline, 2018). We know sneaking in a workout can be especially hard when you're at work all day and mommin' it hard before and after school, so here are our favorite ways to get moving during your work day (your mind and body need it)! Getting a good workout in on the first day / first week of school can be a super healthy distraction from all the emotions of watching our kids grow up too fast! If you can pop into a FIT4MOM class, then you get both:
1. A supportive community to lean on.
2. A solid workout to get you through the waterworks of back-to-school emotions + new routines.
8. Toddler snuggles and kisses (and please, Dear God, easy bedtimes)
Please tell me my son will never outgrow "huggies" and kisses before he runs off to the playground?! Oh wait, we're on day three of our school year, and he already ran out to recess before he "needed" like ten kisses and hugs....ugh, shot to the heart! SO, here's to all the moments our littles DO still need cuddles, snuggles, and kisses. Whether it be after a fall, scraped knee, before bedtime, after a bad dream, or at any other random point during the day/night, give us allllllllll the sweet toddler snuggies and kissies. Honestly, does anything warm your heart more?!
9. A housekeeper and a chef; I mean, a mom can dream, right?
Even if we love to cook, let's be real, it's a struggle during the work week to whip up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to an entire family (especially when half the time toddlers and kids refuse to eat what we eat). Give yourself grace the first few weeks getting used to the back-to-school routine. Bagel Bites and fruit snacks don't make you a bad mom; it makes you a real mom. But, there are easy ways to make meals a little easier; my life-saver in the mornings for my little guy is healthy cereal + fruit; my go-to lunch box inspos are sunflower butter + jelly crackers, homemade lunchables, berries, yogurt, veggies + ranch, mini sandwiches, and more. Guess what? We recently shared a roundup of our fav lunchbox ideas, which you can find here, and you can find some of our favorite, mom-friendly recipes here.
As far as cleaning goes, have your kiddos start helping around the house to give you a break from little chores; we made this age-appropriate chore chart just for you! Also, one word: ROOMBA. Game. Changer. Get one, it's worth every penny. Or, get a doggie; I hear they clean up crumbs realllllll nice. (and your new ROOMBA can help pick up what they shed, amIright).
10. A morning routine - because, life is hectic AF
Did you know it's actually just as important for adults to have regular routines like kids do? "People are creatures of habit, and routines offer a way to promote health and wellness through structure and organization. Having a routine can greatly improve your health" and lead to a more effective use of time" says Northwestern Medicine. Creating and sticking to a routine can help lower stress levels, influence your quality of rest and lead to better sleep, lead to better health, and set a good example for the little people watching you (Northwestern, 2018).
Kids feed off routines, as well. "Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent" (Healthy Children, 2018). Getting organized the night before with lunchbox making, laying clothes out, and even prepping breakfast can help reduce the chaos of early mornings and rushing out the door before that school bell rings. In the evenings, try to reduce screen time and connect as a family - eat together, go swimming together in the backyard, take a walk together, go to the park; strive to have conversation without distractions. Before bed, follow some type of predictable schedule - bath/shower, story time, teeth brushing, conversation, songs, etc. Try to limit TV or iPad usage and turn the lights down. Avoid sugar, long screen times, and active activities that make it hard for your little one(s) to wind down (Healthy Children, 2018).
We know sending your kids back-to-school may be a relief for those who have entertained them 24/7 this summer, but it can also leave a gapping hole in your chest, too. We promise, as the days and weeks go on, emotions will settle, worry will grow into strength, and watching your little one(s) spread their wings is one of the most fulfilling experiences we can witness as a parent.
Sending so much love to you, Mama; this week and always.