The Single Mom’s Guide to Surviving Back to School Season

walkingtoschool

Whew! We made it – another summer down as a single mom.

You got them to summer camp, play dates, sleep overs and whatever else you could think of to keep them from drawing skull tattoos with permanent markers on each other (oh wait, mine did that) or painting the dogs fingernails (mine did that, too). Well, woo hoo anyway! We aren’t perfect, and they are alive aren’t they?! And so are you, barely…

Now it’s back to school and life can go back to normal. This can be a good thing; maybe you’ll finally have time for that yoga class! But not so fast, my little lotus flower mama. When school starts, so does everything else! The ballet classes, t-ball, and school meetings…how do we actually have a peaceful life while driving in rush hour traffic, late for that ballet class or whatever it might be? One thing is for sure, you won’t have time for yoga. Sigh.

I’m a single mom and after my divorce everything was tight: money was tight, time was tight, I was going nuts taking kids to school, working full time and then picking them up and driving them to this class or that class, then home for dinner, but not before that rushed, “OMG we don’t have any milk!” stop at the grocery store.

Every minute of my day was spent doing things for everyone else. I began to look at my life and ask, “Do I need to be doing all this?” The short answer is no, you don’t.  How can you and your kids have an enriched yet peaceful lives?

Here are three things I changed in my life and in doing so, created the peace I was looking for and time for a yoga class:

1. I stopped over-scheduling my kids.

You know what? They will survive without doing every sport or type of dance and music. You did, didn’t you? I consulted with them, and we found one thing they wanted to try or loved. They do it and that’s it! One class a week for each of my kids. Less money, less time doing, and more time being something we all needed.

Tip: If you can find a class that starts right after school and is part of the after-school program, they can stay. This gives you more time before you have to pick them up and is usually less expensive.

2. I started a monthly Friday night hang out with my kids’ friends and their parents.

Most of us have friends with kids and I love to be social but babysitters can be expensive. The grown ups get to have grown up time and the kids entertain themselves. Sometimes we had 10-12 kids at my house! Two parents took care of the kids’ meal and everybody brought something to eat and drink. And when the parents finally got used to the rules, this became a highlight of our month. It’s awesome to have a village.

Tip: There is no plan, no crafts or games to manage, just kids figuring it out on their own. This includes arguments. Believe me, if you leave them alone they will work it out. I did have a parent-approved movie picked out so when things got out of hand, I could coral them in living room for some popcorn and chill time.

3. I started a babysitting club.

Since I now had a great community of parents around my kids, we started sharing babysitting duties. One Friday night a month, I had upwards of 7 kids at my house. I really enjoyed hanging out with them and I learned a lot about what was going on with my kids. I got to know their friends and what they were like. I usually had an activity or two and a pre-approved movie, but often they just played games on their own.

Tip: The babysitting club also meant that I often got two or three Friday nights a month where I could go out, so schedule your hot dates accordingly!

The main thing was that I figured out that finding peace started with me. I needed to put me in the equation and my kids needed some peace, too. We all needed some time to just be. I needed to remember I wasn’t alone and I needed to be creative. Think “community” and build one. I took on the “less is more” mentality, and in doing so, I found more time and money, more fun and more love, and a lot less “OMG! Milk!” moments.

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