Back to school can be such an exciting yet stressful time. As you adapt to your family's new schedule, don't forget to make time for self-care. Remember, self-care is an essential part of your everyday life. You deserve to make self-care a part of your daily routine. Here's some tips to incorporate self-care into your day to day life as your children return to their school routine.
Back to School Self Care Tips
Have a plan- but be realistic
It might seem helpful to have every moment of your day planned down to every last detail, but realistically these plans are bound to go wrong at some point. Focus on the things you have the most control over, or the things that cause you the most stress. Make planning for these things a natural part of your routine, such as giving yourself 30 minutes each Sunday night to figure out when your kids will need rides throughout the week or placing a grocery order the same time every week. But even the most detailed plans can fail and unexpected things pop up all the time. When these things happen, be kind to yourself.
Make an after school routine
The start of the school year can be chaos so create some consistency where you can. Having a consistent routine can help minimize your daily planning and guarantee a few moments free of chaos. Pick one thing that can be consistent every day. Some ideas include having a designated homework spot in your house, ensuring you eat dinner or a snack as a family each night or winding down with a book before bed. It might take some work to establish your routine, but after awhile it will just be a natural part of your day.
Set boundaries for you and your family
It is too easy to get overwhelmed by a packed schedule, yet it often feels impossible to say no to an invite or opportunity. You might feel pressured to let your kids participate in endless extracurriculars, sports and hobbies while also trying to help them manage school responsibilities, a social life and life at home. Set boundaries for you and your family to make sure you are not being stretched too thin. It's ok to let your kids take a season off from a sport, turn down an invitation to a sleep over or take a step back from a club.
Schedule time to relax
We all get so busy that we forget to relax. You might feel like you are constantly on the go and by the time you recognize your burn out you need major recovery time. Make sure you include downtime or relaxation in your routine. Pick something you can do every day, every week and every month. For example, you can spend 10 minutes before you go to bed reading (and encourage your kids to do the same) every day, make sure you eat dinner as a family once a week and treat yourself to a coffee date once a month.
Ask for help
As a parent or caregiver, you may feel like you spend your life being the family chauffer, chef, event coordinator, financial advisor, housekeeper and everything else in between, often while also juggling a job and your own personal life. Sometimes we take on all of these responsibilities because we feel like we have no choice or maybe we are afraid that everything won't get accomplished unless we do it ourselves. But you are allowed to ask for help! Identify people and resources that can help you when you are feeling overwhelmed. Can you ask a teammate's parent to help with rides to practice? Do you have a family member or friend that can help you clean your house? Does your school or community have financial assistance to help with lunches or uniforms? Asking for help doesn't mean you aren't capable of doing it on your own, it just means you are strong enough to recognize what is best for your well-being.
When did you learn about consent? It’s possible that you didn’t get to have this important conversation with a trusted adult in your life. You may have had to create your own understanding of consent through your own life experiences- which can cause many problems. It is imperative that you provide your children information about consent. Conversations about consent should start at a very young age and continue throughout their life. How do you have these conversations with the children in your life?
What is Consent?
Put simply, consent is giving permission for something to happen. We generally talk about consent in regards to sex, but consent is important in virtually all aspects of life. We practice consent when deciding what kind of physical contact we are comfortable with, developing boundaries in our relationships, setting limits with others and expressing our desires. Depending on the age and maturity of your child, you may choose a variety of examples to demonstrate the concept of consent.
Young kids: “If you don’t want to hug your uncle, you don’t have to. Do you want to give him a high five instead?”
Middle school: “You don’t have to text the girl from your math class anymore if she is making you uncomfortable. You get to decide who you text”
High school: “Even though you are going to prom, you don’t owe your date anything. Don’t feel pressured to have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
Why talk about consent?
When parents have consent conversations with their children, it is often focused on avoiding sexual assault. While this is one important aspect of these conversations, there are also many benefits to fostering conversations about consent.
Consent Conversation Tips
It’s not enough to just talk about consent, you must also model it in your daily life. Once again, consent applies to most of our normal day to day interactions. Take advantage of these moments by showing what respectful communication and interactions look like. Normalize communicating about boundaries in your family. Use simple situations, such as asking before taking a bite of food off your child’s plate, to show how you ask for permission, wait for a response and accept an answer. Show your child how you accept the answer of “no” with respect and kindness. Model healthy boundaries in your relationships.
What to Avoid
Expressing judgment– you want your child to feel comfortable talking to you. You may not intend to sound judgmental, so be conscious of your reactions and body language.
Focusing on the law– it is important for people to understand the legal implications of consent, but there should be more to your conversation than just the law! This is especially important when talking to teenage boys, there is more to consent than just age of consent laws.
Victim blaming– sometimes we tell women “safety tips” with the best of intentions. But make sure your advice isn’t subtly placing blame on women for not preventing their assault. For example, telling your daughter to not wear revealing clothing may give the impression that clothing can imply consent.
Showing your own discomfort– if you express that you are uncomfortable talking about consent, relationships or sex, your child may think these are unacceptable topics to discuss. Push yourself to respect your boundaries while also being the resource your child needs you to be for them.
You don’t have to have all the answers to start talking about consent! Check out the links included in this blog or call 419-774-5840 to speak with a trained advocate.
Resources referenced in this blog post:
Other resources about consent:
Self-care is not a luxury, is not optional and is not occasional. Self-care is fundamental, mandatory and frequent. Self-care is absolutely essential to your mental, emotional and physical well being.
Often we think about self-care as a special treat, something that we have to plan and prepare for. But self-care needs to be a part of your everyday routine. Using information from How To Start a Self-Care Routine (and Stick To It) – Cleveland Clinic, here's some tips for making self-care part of your daily life.
What is self-care?
According to Dr. Matthew Saco, "Self-care is something we deliberately do- or in some instances, refrain from doing- with our own well-being in mind." Self-care includes physical, emotional, psychological and even spiritual practices to keep you in a healthy mindset.
Why does self-care matter?
Self-care helps us combat stress and anxiety and helps keep us prepared for dealing with the demands of life. When you have a well established plan and routine, you are prepared to cope with unexpected stressors and can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
How to start your routine
Starting a routine can seem impossible, and we often set ourselves up for failure when we expect perfection from the start. To get your routine started, think of some small steps you can try out. Start with a small addition to your morning routine. Do you start your morning in chaos? Maybe try preparing your coffee pot or laying out your clothes the night before. As you adapt to each small change, add another. It can be as simple as reserving 10 minutes a day for reading or relaxation.
You can also think about habits you'd like to break. Maybe you get so busy that you frequently forget to eat lunch. You could try setting an alarm to remind you that you have to stop to eat. You might find yourself mindlessly scrolling on your phone. To work towards breaking this habit you could try scheduling a phone free hour in your day.
Short term and long term routines
Starting with small changes gives you the chance to evaluate your successes and struggles. As you start to perfect your everyday routine, start to add bigger goals to your routine. Consider what you can do for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health everyday. Think of something you can do every week for self-care. It could be going to an exercise class, or trying a new recipe every week.
Continue to grow your routine to include monthly goals. They could be goals focused on relaxation, such as spending time with a friend at least once a month. Or you could pick a goal that contributes to your overall well-being, such as picking a substantial household chore to complete every month.
We all know that life can be stressful. There will be times where you just cannot accomplish everything you want to do. Be realistic of what you are able to do, and don't stress out if you lapse on your self-care routine. Try to get back to your routine, and prioritize your most important aspects of self-care. The more natural self-care becomes in your everyday life, the less likely you are to neglect your self-care habits.
Tips to try