Ah, the joys of back-to-school chaos. The simplicity of summer has come to an end and the hustle and bustle of a brand-new school year has set in. As much as the promise of a new teacher and classroom full of potential friends excites our kids, it can also cause them a lot of anxiety.
Let’s be honest, back-to-school season can cause military moms a lot of anxiety, too. Whether you and your family relocated to a new base or your kids are just trying to get back into the swing of things, back-to-school madness can put a lot of pressure on military families.
Here are tips to make the beginning of the new school year a little less stressful and a little more manageable.
1. Take advantage of military discounts for back-to-school shopping.
Remember the thrill of getting a fresh pair of tennis shoes or a shiny new folder as a kid? As fun and exciting as back-to-school shopping can be, it can also get pretty expensive. Take advantage of all the military discounts available to you so you can stock up on this season’s styles without breaking the bank.
If you’re looking for affordable and easy-to-find kids clothing and shoes, some of our top picks include:
- Old Navy
- Gap Kids
- The Children’s Place
- Payless Shoe Source
And if your child has a 2-page list of required school supplies, check out these stores:
- Dollar Tree
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, keep in mind that a lot of stores don’t advertise that they offer military discounts, so it doesn’t hurt to ask at checkout.
2. Establish a routine.
Even if they don’t admit it (or realize it!), children love routine. There is comfort in knowing what should happen when, and it also helps manage expectations.
This could be especially helpful for military kids who experience frequent moves and uncertainty. Establishing a routine that begins the second your child wakes up will help provide a little more structure to his or her life.
Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and it’s hard to follow every aspect of a routine rigidly. But if you’re looking to get started, we recommend trying to implement a program like this Daily Schedule from Military Wife and Mom. These cards are straightforward, easy to use, and frankly, pretty adorable. You can download her printables and even create your own! Who said routine couldn’t be fun?
3. Get your child involved in extracurriculars.
Social interaction is vital for school-aged children. Learning how to connect with peers and interact with different personalities is key to your child’s developmental and emotional health.
It’s so easy for them to come home and retreat to a video game console, social media feed, or iPad full of games. Letting this happen every day after school, however, could be detrimental to your child’s emotional health.
“Children are totally immersed in a virtual world which is damaging both to the way they see themselves and the way they perceive the real world,” explains Dr Hayley Van Zwanberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist. “Some young children are finding it hard to unpick reality from fantasy.”
To prevent this, encourage your child to explore his or her own interests. If your son isn’t interested in soccer and would rather join chess club, give him the thumbs up. If your daughter has always dreamed of becoming a singer, sign her up for some lessons.
4. Connect with the other adults in your child’s life.
Your child interacts with plenty of other adults outside the home each day. Make a point to stay in contact with their teachers, coaches, tutors, and babysitters. They can provide keen insight into your child’s well-being and help you discover behavioral norms as well as signs of distress.
And guess what? This is also beneficial to those other adults as well. According to the LA Times, a survey revealed that 94% of teachers felt it necessary to be informed about a recent divorce or other family issue. Family Share recommends sharing any information regarding “the 4 Ds” with your child’s teacher. These include: death, disease, depression, and divorce.
Although this might sound inappropriate, events like this can have an immense impact on your child’s behavior and academic success. Partnering with teachers and coaches ensures that everyone is on the same page.
5. Don’t forget to take some “mom time”.
No doubt, you’re a do-it-all kind of mom. Between trips to soccer practice, parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings, science fair projects, and for some, your own full or part-time job, when do you actually have time for yourself? Make this a priority, mamas.
Whether you have time to sign up for your favorite hot yoga class or just to grab a romance novel and cozy up with a cup of tea, you deserve some serious R&R. Need ideas? Here are 10 ways to have “mom” time without spending a ton of cash or time:
- Attend a new workout class
- Binge your favorite show on Netflix (hey, we’re not judging)
- Head to your local library/bookstore and check out a book
- Have an at-home spa day (bubble bath, romance novel, candles)
- Grab a cup of coffee with a friend
- Write in a journal
- Listen to one of your favorite podcasts
- Start a DIY project
- Sign up for an online class (find entrepreneur-style ones here!)
- Indulge in a guilty pleasure (ice cream, online shopping, dancing on your bed… you name it!)
We know being a mom is tough sometimes. Being a military mom may be even tougher! You work so hard to nurture and support your spouse and children, but it’s just as important to nurture and support yourself.
Don’t feel guilty for taking some “me” time. Chances are, when the kids return from school after you’ve treated yourself to something special, you’ll be a little more patient and a little less stressed.
More school-year tips: