September is notoriously a hectic month as we shift from lazy summer days and bare feet into new, stiff runners and Fall routines. It’s transition time for kids entering new grades and making new friends but it’s also a shift for the parents guiding them through the back-to-school season all the while managing the schedule changes, booking the extra-curriculars and making lunches (often all happening simultaneously while still managing their own jobs, lives and relationships.) In 2020, multiply all anxiety by 100, because, COVID.
I spoke with Justine Sones, a coach who offers Stress Management and Self-Care workshops for burnt out groups and individuals who want to manage stress and anxiety, develop better habits and focus more on what matters. She’s also a mom to two boys so can relate to the daily grind of being a working parent.
Here is Justine’s advice for having a healthy, happy September – and helping your kids have one too.
Six September self-care tips for moms
1. Model Calm
We cannot support our children’s anxiety unless we manage our own anxiety first. Focusing on yourself and addressing your own uncertainty is essential to helping your kids feel confident about changes ahead. Modeling calm behaviour and language will encourage them to do the same.
2. Set yourself up for success
Anticipate high stress transitions like the morning routine. Make lunches, lay out clothes and shoes the night before to avoid extra chaos. It’s not easy at the end of the night when you’re tired but try to think about what your future self will thank you for.
3. Daily Quiet Time
Create a routine that includes daily quiet time, ideally somewhere between school and dinner. Set kids up with an age appropriate activity that will occupy them and keep them in one spot. Screen time doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Train them that unless someone is gushing blood, Mom isn’t available for the next 15 minutes. Practice this day in and day out until the kids come to expect this pocket of quiet. Keep your expectations low for what you can achieve during this time.
4. Practice Boundaries
Teach your kids about boundaries by practicing them yourself. If they’re not ready to understand emotional boundaries, they can be taught that a door is a boundary or that a word is a boundary (stop, for example.) Set your boundaries and then maintain them. For example: When Mom’s door is shut, she is unavailable and you’ll have to wait. If a child comes in for a cuddle, remind them of the boundary. Also, respect their boundaries too. A shut door requires a knock and ‘Stop tickling me!’ means stop.
5. Establish Routine
September is a new year and a new opportunity to manage expectations and create good habits. It might be tough at first to be consistent but as everything changes in their world, routine can be as comforting for kids as it is for you.
In and Out. Count to ten. We don’t know how this year is going to play out. You can set yourself up with the best schedule only to have it snatched out from under you by a second wave. Give yourself constant reminders you’re doing your best and that’s enough. You’re making the safest decisions for your children with the information available. Create space for your emotions and know that self-compassion is what gives you the strength to get up each day and do it all again.
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!