Back to School Planning for Mum
With kids back to school this week many Mums can now focus on the things they have to do or want to do – albeit in that teeny, weeny window of time between drop off and pick up.
Personally, I have been waiting all summer holidays to wash the floor – there has been no point really when the kids have been home all day to just dirty it straight away, right? But instead of wasting my time with a mop and bucket (because they will be home in a few hours to mess again) I have decided to list a few things that would be useful for Mums who are starting study, or are returning to study, to think about before their OWN school year starts.
Where will you study?
In an ideal world we would all have Pintrest-worthy offices or study nooks attached to our ‘family command’ centers next to the kitchen with its menu planning board and school bag and shoe organisation box for each kid. Failing that, you need to find somewhere you can study. Ideally, this will be an area you don’t have to clean each time you need to use it, like the dining room table which seems to be a universal dumping ground in homes around the world.
Even if you get one of those wall-hung folding tables that you can pick up cheaply from Ikea it is important to have a space that is ‘yours’. You could also get a folding chair and hang that from the wall too. Get yourself a nice looking box and keep your study things in it and then each time you need to work, you can fold down the table, fix open the chair, get your box out and get started at your ‘work-station’. It won’t cost you too much (you will need to work out how to get it hung off the wall if you aren’t into DIY) but psychologically it will be wonderful to have somewhere to ‘go study.’ Think of all the time you have put into organising the kids’ school-stationary lists, make sure you place as much importance on your own ‘school’ needs.
Something like these would be ideal! These images are from
What will you eat?
This is always something I spend a lot of time on. There is nothing worse than trying to scramble together a meal for cranky kids when you need to head out to an evening class or have a night of ‘study’ ahead of you. It makes me feel rushed, unhealthy and, to be honest, a bit of a rubbish mother if I am looking around the kitchen wondering if it would be adequate to feed the kids Celebrity Slim Shake for dinner…JOKING!!! The Slim Shake is for me, they have Sustagen
So, having meals you can assemble quickly is always a good idea but you already know about meal planning, you are a mum… what you should think about is your own ‘lunch box’. It is easy to get so focused on getting the kids out the door in the morning that you forget your own food requirements for the day. Food options on most campuses are expensive and it takes up precious time to seek out food. Unless you plan to go out for lunch for fun or as a reward during the day, it is a better option to make yourself a lunchbox while you are doing the kids’ in the morning. And don’t forget your own water bottle.
What will you wear?
This issue comes up time and time again for Mums – especially if they are postgraduate students and have to do presentations on their research or attend seminars during the day. I think it is also important to put some care and consideration into your clothing and presentation so that you feel more prepared and ‘serious’ about your studies.
I know from my research mums who study treat their education as a job so dressing like you are going to ‘work’ is so important to reinforce the feeling that your studies are a valid and worthwhile activity and should be respected and valued.
What are your non-negotiables?
By this I mean what are things you simply cannot compromise on? You will have to accept that now you are adding your own education into the mix, some things will have to give/go. There are only a limited number of hours in the day (and who says I never learnt anything at uni?) and it is absolutely impossible to do everything within such limited time. This means you need to write down what is important to you and what is less important.
See how I am saying less important not UN-important? You are smart, you know how to let the un-important things go, but it is going to be tough to figure out what really is non-negotiable and what can slide for the time being.
For example, I have already mentioned the food issue. For me I have to make sure I have the meals figured out. That is not to say it always goes smoothly and we don’t sometimes feast on liquid meals (except for the man of the house who, on these occasions, heads straight for the local takeaway with his merry bunch of offspring cheering in the background) but in general I have the food situation under control.
The laundry however is a completely different beast. I have an entire room of the house that is full of washing in different stages of the ‘washing cycle’ – I might try take a photo to show you what I mean at some point. Yes, I would love to have the kids clothes ironed and smelling of a green, grassy hilltop in Switzerland on a lovely spring day but that is not always possible. So I settle with clean and relatively wrinkle-free.
Write down what you can tolerate and what is non-negotiable and place it somewhere to remind yourself daily to spend your time on what is important to you.
For me, the washing can wait (and let me assure you it DOES WAIT) but for example on my list of non-negotiables is:
* Food shopping/meal planning/lunchboxes etc
* Kid’s homework/reading (this will be done before washing out lunch boxes or arranging the next day’s uniform)
* Suncream before leaving house each morning (I chose to do this before looking for the missing reader or library bag)
* Making sure I always have petrol and change for parking (so I will do this before I clean out last year’s melted Easter eggs from the back seat…)
You see what I mean? There are many important things but some are more important to me and to keep my sanity I list what is non-negotiable and then learn to tolerate the rest. Try it – even just thinking about it and writing it down is so valuable and will hopefully provide you with some food for thought…
Have a great year of study Mums!