Many students here in PA head back to school today. Over the last few weeks several people have asked my kids and me countless times, "Are you ready?" We are ready, and this year, it's more than just having the school supplies packed (check), the new clothes bought (check), and the online forms filled out (check). Knowing it's going to be a particularly full fall for our family, I put in some extra effort to prevent some typically stressful situations. I loaded their lunch accounts for the entire year. I bought birthday cards for the remainder of 2019. I'm stocking up on Lean Cuisine meals and yogurts to make sure I'm not scrambling at the last minute. I'm getting my clearances and requesting PTO now for a field trip in November.
Before I sound too put-together, however... I'm also driving around with my car telling me I'm 671 miles past due on an oil change (now scheduled for Friday) and I did ignore the first several reminders I received about scheduling my kids' doctors appointments, leading to me getting the last two appointments available this summer. But I'm trying to get better at planning ahead, and the more I do it, the easier gets.
If you want to feel more prepared for a busy season or a big event, answering these questions will help.
What's most important to you? (Is it maximizing fun, is it making sure everything goes smoothly, is it staying to a budget, is it minimizing conflict?)
What typically causes stress and what can you do to address that in advance? (If you buy birthday presents for so-and-so at the last minute, can you buy them now? If Halloween sneaks up on you every year, can you plan your costume in September?)
What can you remove from your schedule to release stress? (I am amazed at how much more I'm getting down now that I've minimized my time on social media. Saying no to events that don't bring you joy can have lots of positive effects.)
What can you add to your schedule that might reduce stress? (Exercise, meditation and journaling do wonders for my mental health.)
What can you let go of? (I'm thinking I can minimize family stress and save time by being more hands-off about what my kids wear and how they do their hair.)
What can you do to make things easier? (Stock up, plan ahead, anticipate the obstacles.)