Surprising Advice for Surviving Back To School

Yup, it’s back to school day!

And for many this means back to an actual classroom. With people and everything. 

As a parent, this may bring either fear or relief. Or both!

Regardless of your feelings about the return to the physical classroom (and waving bye bye for now to home schooling), chances are you have some questions about how to cope with the big change. Your kids do too!

In this newsletter I am sharing unconventional wisdom that you and your kid can use to get through this transition. 

As always, only take the bits and pieces that fit well for you and your family and throw away the rest. 

Why do I say that?

Because unconventional wisdom number one is: Prepare and do less.

Read on to find out more.

Most people prepare for the upcoming year by trying to get everything figured out. If they can figure it out at the beginning, the rest will be smoothing sailing, right?So, they buy new planners. They schedule everything in. They set their goals and intentions. They read all the internet advice they can find and try to do ALL of it. They are going to get it right this time. This time it isn’t going to be an overwhelming mess. 

But guess what? A lot of that effort is wasted. 

Why? Because we don’t actually know what the year is going to be like yet. Over-planning too much in advance without knowing exactly what you are planning for is like packing for a trip but not knowing where you’re travelling yet. You will end up with a million extra luggage bags filled with the wrong clothes and footwear that you then need to lug around. 

This habit of over-preparing for something without enough of the facts to guide us on how to BEST prepare simply leaves us depleted before we’ve even arrive at the terminal. 

Likewise, sometimes we take expert advice without reflecting on whether it fits for us.

Here’s the thing: You want your efforts to be effectiveBut most of our efforts are misdirected and end up more exhausting than effective. And that creates a failure mindset that can really get us down in the dumps.

So, you want to feel less overwhelmed? The first step is to understand the stressors you are going to be facing. 

Why is your kid’s teacher like? What is the pulse of the classroom like? What types of assignments will be brought home? What is your kid’s new high-school vibe? How will you be emotionally experiencing back to school?Will you be back to work and what is that going to feel like? What tasks will be added or removed from your list (work wise or domestically)?

You need this information before you can settle into the best way to navigate the new semester. 

You need to know where you are travelling before you can pack effectively. 

But wait, you say, when I am packing I LIKE to have unnecessary items as backups or contingencies. It’s GOOD to prepare for the unexpected. 

I hear you. Here’s another way to think about it: Would you buy all the furniture for your new house before you had a chance to see it’s layout and configuration? Would you go in and start knocking down kitchen walls and adding in fancy sinks and stoves before you know how you typically use the space? Sometimes we have an idea of what we need and what will look good, but until we are actually living in the space we realize we operate very differently than we expected to.

(Side bar story: I didn’t take my own advice and when I moved into my new apartment I planned the entire decor around our dining room table. It was the main feature and family meals were going to be amazing. BUT when we moved in it didn’t make any sense at all. We have an infant who doesn’t sit at the table, our kitchen is a shared space above our unit (which is a bedroom and a den area) and we certainly aren’t carrying the food down the stairs every time and the dishes back up to wash them. The table ended up being where weeks of laundry and random books and papers got piled and nothing more. What a waste of space and what an eyesore (and yes, clearly, even experts can’t always get their crap together. We are human too). Had we taken the time to really live in the space and see how we are using it as a family then we could have made calculated decisions that didn’t result in having to completely re-do all our heavy furniture placement, My husband is particularly salty about that one as moving furniture is his least favourite activity next to going to Ikea to get more furniture to put together and move…it’s a cycle (Thanks, babe! Love you!).

So the best unconventional wisdom is do less, prepare less, get the pulse of the semester first. Then cultivate an effective plan targets towards your unique semester, your unique kid, your unique needs and your unique family. How will you move around the space of your semester? What “heavy furniture” or “extra-luggage” can you offload right now?

This may take a couple weeks to feel out, but it will save you all that time of trying stuff that won’t work and will leave you feeling frustrated and like you can’t get it together. Again!

Stay tuned next week for Unconventional Back to School Wisdom #2