When you work in a school setting – or even if you don’t – September is the other New Year. It’s a great time for fresh starts, and I am a huge fan of a fresh start.
I’m sitting in an empty house as I type this; the boys are on a dump run/bike ride with Tamara, and I am contemplating what intentions I’d like to set for myself as the new school year starts.
Work hard and stay present. Ever since becoming a parent, it’s been harder for me to focus at work. It surprised me as much as anyone else to learn that I’d rather be at home with my kids than anywhere else; I’ve always loved being a social worker, and I didn’t expect parenthood to present this particular challenge for me. But it’s true. Before Edgar was born, I attended work every day with my whole head and heart in it; since he was born, it takes focused effort to keep myself present and working hard for every minute of the work day.
With the fresh start of transferring to a new school this year – an elementary school about twenty minutes from home – I want to be re-focus my efforts to be present and work hard during the school days. I don’t mean to imply that I haven’t been working hard previously; I don’t think anyone would notice this change but me. But I can feel it – the moments when I am pulled toward home and am not giving 100% to my paperwork, my phone call, my meeting. I feel it – and then I feel guilty about it later, and it messes with the time I do have at home. I want to work hard and be fully present at work this year, and I’m excited to have a fresh start opportunity to do it.
Create the routines you need. This summer, my goal was to create routines for the boys that we would follow this school year. It didn’t really happen, and that’s okay. Because it was summertime! That’s the whole thing with summers, and weekends, and vacations – they are not regular days with your typical routines. They’re special. A few weeks after our camping trip, I decided I wasn’t going to worry about building our morning and afternoon routines until school started and I’ve stuck to that.
I’m a good mom, but routines are not my strength, personally or as a parent. I forget about teeth brushing and I don’t always remember to have the boys clean up their messes. This is all okay.
Yet as a professional, I know the value of turning a task into a routine, and it’s something I want to make happen for myself and the boys this year. The problem is, until the school year starts, I’m not sure what the specifics of our morning routine should be. Should the boys get dressed as soon as they wake up? Do we have time for a little free play in the morning? I really don’t know yet – and that’s okay, too. I’m excited to explore the specifics of what our mornings will look like – stay tuned for that. For now, I just want to set an intention that when needed, I will create the routines we need for our family.
Slow down and keep things simple. This has been on my mind a lot as I contemplate our commitments, individually and as a family, this fall. We contemplated signing Edgar up for a sport or activity this fall, but ultimately we decided to wait until winter or spring so that we can all ease into the school year and get adjusted to going places and doing things. There’s also my private counseling practice, which I am trying to simplify for the fall; I often have the feeling I should expand and try to take on more, but when I sit back and reflect, I realize that I really don’t want to find myself overcommitted, overwhelmed, and stressed out this fall. There will be time for building up more clientele and earning more income – but Edgar will only start kindergarten once, and I really want to stay centered on what matters this fall by being a peaceful, playful, and present parent for my kids.
That’s all I’ve got for now. So excited for a mindful + intentional start to a new school year.