Last year a friend posted a sweet photo of her and her infant on social media. Captioned “Back to School” mom and daughter were at Starbucks enjoying a pumpkin spice latte and embracing a new tradition of getting out of the house one morning a week for some caffeine, a walk and the opportunity to meet new friends.
Sometimes, or if we’re to be honest, most of the time, life for stay at home moms of little ones can feel like Groundhog Day, the same routine and frustrations over and over again. I have always enjoyed the transitions created by the academic calendar, clear beginnings and endings, periods of work and breaks for rest. Even if your little one is not school age or attending school this year, back to school is the perfect time to pause, take a moment for yourself and consider what you may want to do differently as you close out 2019. Here are some easy (and inexpensive) ideas for celebrating back to school with a little one at home.
1. Do Something Small to Celebrate
Find out when elementary age kids return to school in your local area and on that day do something small to celebrate. You can go to Starbucks and treat yourself to a seasonal drink as my friend did or pick up a special take out lunch from a favorite spot. You can use naptime to read a magazine you’ve been dying to jump into or kick off the fall season with a viewing of Practical Magic after your little one goes down for the night. At the very least make a Target run for a new deep magenta nail polish or moisture mask to enjoy before the cold weather arrives. Stepping outside of your daily routine and treating yourself to something special can change your whole mindset and make even an ordinary Tuesday feel festive.
2. Reset Your Routine
Is your routine in a rut? The start of fall is an ideal time to revise it. Routines can stagnate incrementally without you realizing it. Consider what your days typically look like. What are you doing that is working? What is not? Be honest with yourself and jot down some notes. What do you wish you were doing and what are you doing that has started to feel like a burden? Perhaps you stopped leaving the house in the afternoons because of your child’s nap schedule but their naps have shortened and the afternoons in are starting to feel long and tedious. Consider what you’re not doing that you could add in. Maybe your child is now at an age where they’d enjoy an afternoon trip to the grocery store, and you can add that to your schedule one day a week. Kids change and move through phases quickly, your schedule can and should reflect this.
3. Change of Season, Change of Activities
Here in the DC area we get to experience all four seasons which means that the weather can and should impact your activities. As we move from summer to fall some activities will necessarily change (the community pool probably closed on Labor Day). Besides the obvious activities which will no longer be possible consider all of your activities. Is the music group you’ve been part of for a year still engaging to your little one? Is he or she at an age where they are more mobile and may prefer tumbling or dance? Review all the activities you participate in in a given week, consider the costs, time involved and how you feel when preparing for and leaving these activities. Are you and your little one excited and energized by the commitment or relieved that the activity is over? Changing the activities your kids are involved in allows them to experience something different and you to be exposed to a new set of parents. Back to school is all about trying something new, it is both scary and exhilarating and you don’t need a school aged child to embrace it.
4. Expand Your Mom Crew
It’s no secret that the people you surround yourself with influence you and your view of the world. Take a moment to think about your mom friends. Are they positive people who lift you up? Or do they see the sippy cup as half empty, always responding negatively to the pressures of parenting? Fall is a great time to expand your mom crew, back to school is a time full of new beginnings and new friends, and it should be no different for you as an adult. Be sure to attend our Moms Mingle and Munch at Matchbox on September 1o from 6:3o to 8:30 for some socializing, complimentary pizza, and MORE. Grab your ticket here and invite a buddy! As you reset your routine and change activities, you will undoubtedly be exposed to new people. Is the woman sitting next to you at library storytime the kind of mom you would like to be? Does she react to a diaper blow out with a laugh and a plan, instead of a meltdown? If so you may want to offer her a few baby wipes and introduce yourself.
5. Create a Kid Friendly Bucket List
I love seasonal family bucket lists because they ensure that I participate in new and different events and help tremendously on days when I just don’t know what to do with my kids. Start doing some research, the DC area boasts an incredible amount of family friendly seasonal activities. Create a list on your phone so you’ll always have it with you and add events as you come across them, if the event is on a specific date also add it to your calendar so you don’t lose track of it. Everything both big and small is fair game. Some easy ideas include: pumpkin picking, a hayride, jack-o-lantern carving, watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, reading books in front of a fire, jumping in leaf piles and researching and creating Halloween costumes.
Back to school may be even more fun when it doesn’t include buying mass quantities of pencils, cold walks to the bus stop and evenings full of homework. Instead enjoy the best parts, the fun of fall, opportunities for growth and change and the joy of having your little one with you for a bit longer.