When my 10-year-old was getting ready to go back to school last September, she made up a morning to-do list to keep herself organized each day. The list consisted of the following:
- Wake up
- Make breakfast
- Wake up mom
- Brush teeth
- Get dressed
- Wake mom up again
- Pack lunch and school bag
- Get out the door
There were two very clear takeaways for me from this list. One, my daughter had finally realized, after 10.5 years, that I am NOT a morning person. And two, I had a list-maker just like me in the house.
I love to plan. And organize. And check off lists as my day goes along. So this year, I decided to make my own back-to-school list.
1. Get rid of the lists
What?? It may have taken three kids’ worth of parenting but it’s finally dawned on me that while I love to plan for myself and my family, I have to let a lot more unstructured time into our lives. Organized activities are a wonderful way to learn various skills, to socialize, and to practice said skills on a regular basis. But keeping a lot of free time available for play with friends and family in the park, in the backyard, or school yard have so many benefits, too. The freedom to be creative with imaginary games, to try new activities based on which playmates are present, and to schedule as YOU please are just a few of the joys you’ll experience as you let go of the multiple organized activities in your life. Feel the stress lift off your shoulders as you envision not having to rush one child to one activity while battling traffic to get one to another. Imagine the joy of your kids playing baseball together or with friends in the park one evening and bike riding as a family the next. Or your kids joining the neighbours for an impromptu game of hide and seek on a weekend afternoon. Perhaps a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk or a run through the sprinkler? By “de-listing,” your children could spend less time focussed on a few activities and have their schedules open for many. And did I mention how much happier your wallet will be?
2. Okay, maybe don’t completely get rid of the lists
While devoting more time to unstructured play is a priority this year, so is keeping the activities I do have planned organized. My new school-year’s resolutions include attempting to make meal plans on the weekend so that fewer rushed (which sometime equate to less healthy) meals are consumed. I also plan to keep up a strong support system (aka car pools) for those organized activities in which my children do participate. I will keep an up-to-date calendar in the kitchen so the whole family will be aware of each other’s plans, and I will use technology like TeamSnap to keep on top of games and practices.
3. Okay, lists are totally important
If NOT having lists stresses you out, keep lists. And check them twice. And thrice? But maybe be open to a little more flexibility. That may be my ultimate goal.
This school year, I will breathe more. I will slow down. I will enjoy my children’s company. I will make healthy eating and unstructured active living a priority. I will continue to be a list-maker but will leave more spaces on that list for unplanned activities.
Will it be easier for my children to rouse me in the morning? Probably not. But there are only so many changes I can be expected to make!