And yet, you can’t escape it. I’m amazed at the chaotic energy around these days. It permeates everything! Honestly, I don’t remember back-to-school time causing as much chaos and anxiety as it does now. When I was a kid, the parents calmly loaded you in the car, took you to school, and that was done. If shopping needed to be done, it was done. Open house? You go, and that’s it. We’ve definitely managed to complicate this time of year much more than necessary. I don’t know how the return to school because rocket science, but somehow, it is now. There are a million more details to it these days.
I think it’s the struggle with transitions that cause so much of the anxiety. They’re always tough. We create habits to make life easier, and when your schedule changes, then you have to break old habits and form new ones (or at least, settle back into different ones). I mentioned in my last entry that people are strongly resistant to changing their habits, and back to school time is when society as a whole is forced to do it. Even if you’re like me and aren’t in the education field at all, you have to adapt to changing traffic patterns, busses on the road, and colleagues needing accommodations to accommodate their own families. Nobody goes untouched during back to school time. It truly does affect us all.
I’ve faced plenty of change (and even multiple changes simultaneously), so I do have four pieces of advice for managing back to school time with as little pain and suffering as possible:
- Be patient with yourself. It takes time to figure out where things are at, what’s happening, and what works best. Give yourself time to take stock of what is for 2016-17, and to figure out ways to help things flow the best. The choices may be overwhelming, so give yourself time to know what works for you.
- Don’t be afraid to change. What worked last year may not work this year, so don’t hang on to old things or routines that don’t fit your current life. As people often say in the workforce: “because we’ve always done it this way” is no reason to keep doing it that way. Go for what’s effective. In time, it will become comfortable.
- Plan ahead, and allow extra time in the mornings. If you get up at the last possible minute and rush around to get out of the door on time, then you’re framing your day in chaotic energy that will follow you around everywhere you go. Stop the madness by planning as much ahead as possible, and allowing plenty of time in the mornings to do things at a more relaxed pace. Plan your wardrobes, get lunches together, make sure you know where everything you need is, and set things up the night before. The next morning, get up 15-20 minutes early so you don’t have to rush to get ready and go. I know this may be a difficult change to make (even more so if you have others to get out of the door), but it’s worth it. I started doing this three years ago when I changed to a slightly later work schedule, and it’s made a tremendous difference in how my days go. Instead of being rushed and frustrated, I start my days with enough time to drink my coffee and come in relaxed and ready for the day, instead of running in harried and already frustrated.
- It’s ok to keep some familiar things around to keep you “grounded.” Starting new things can be exciting, but after a week or two, you might find yourself frustrated because nothing is familiar. This is normal. Change it tough, and there’s going to be resistance even if the change is good. It’s ok to indulge in something old and familiar to give yourself comfort when the growing pains hit. Call or message an old friend, re-read a book or watch a movie you loved again, go have that vanilla latte that you loved so much during long study sessions last year, find a chain store that you love and go browsing to see what’s in right now. We all need comfort every now and then, and there’s no problem with indulging for a few hours to stay in touch with who you are, while you take the next steps on the journey to where you want to be.
I wish everybody the best of luck in starting the new school year, and hope this is an exciting and joy-filled journey for you. But no, I don’t envy you – not one bit.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.