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Back to School

Back to School

by Chris Petry

I spent most of the weekend tossing and turning, my inner monologue bouncing around innate topics like ping pong balls against my skull. What will be this week’s blog topic? Needless to say, when I handed in a paper using Cryptozoological creatures as metaphors for the human psychological need to pursue the unattainable, my Editor was none too pleased. Then she suggested a topic that I admittedly haven’t thought about in nearly 16 years: school. 

If you have children then you haven’t been afforded the luxury of forgetting the impending school season. Maybe your child is about to begin their very first year. Or maybe they’re on their way to graduation. For everyone else, it’s business as usual. You’ll spend the next couple weeks running through shopping malls and department stores, or scouring the internet, for sneakers, jeans, skirts, tops, and accessories. You’ll look for deals on school supplies at Target or Wal-Mart and remember that kids these days aren’t doing a lot of handwriting only AFTER you’ve spent $200 on pencils, notepads, spiral bound notebooks, markers, sharpeners, highlighters, and folders.
Then there’s the realization that if the kids are going back to school, summer is on its way out. Oh yeah! The days of mowing your lawn, stocking up on pool chemicals, and power washing the deck are coming to a close. In their place, however, you’ll have the pleasure of raking up leaves, composting, and getting done all the last-minute outdoor painting, staining, and organizing you’ve avoided because of the harsh summer sun.
You’ll be driving the kids around for ballgames, dance practice, theatre, and all kinds of fun extracurricular activities. Before you know it, you’ll be carving Jack-O-Lanterns, shoveling snow, singing carols, and welcoming the New Year!
So, what should you do to prepare yourself for the busy autumnal festivities? I’d suggest a few things:
If you haven’t started preparing, prepare now. Don’t procrastinate. Get all the school shopping done. Figure out the logistics of your route to and from work, home, school, and anywhere else you’ll need to take the kiddos. Plan that route. Is there anything more frustrating than running to the last second only to realize you’ll be even later to your destination because you didn’t know the bridge was under construction? If you have outdoor projects, prioritize them now. Once the kids have stuff to do, you’ll have less time to get that stuff done.

Set aside some quiet time. Right now, you’re thinking, “Look buddy, you just spent four paragraphs reminding me of all the stuff I have to do and now you’re telling me to relax?” Yes. If you’re emotionally taxed, your cognitive ability will be affected. Set aside a little time to focus on the stuff that makes you happy. That can be drawing, crocheting, crafting, reading, or laying on the couch with a pizza and a stacked Netflix queue. Look inward. Meditate.
Start a routine of organization. Get in the habit of, and get your kids in the habit of, preparing outfits, shoes, backpacks, and incidentals the night before. This makes it less likely you’ll forget something you need. Make your bed every morning. If you opt to skip the first task of the day, it’s likely you’ll convince yourself that other tasks can slide as well. Next thing you know, you’ll be way behind on responsibilities, which perpetuates the cycle of exhaustion and malaise one feels when overwhelmed.
Prioritize sleep. Go to bed at roughly the same time every night. Sure, there are exceptions but by setting a clear bedtime, you can more accurately plan your day and the tasks that will need to be accomplished by certain points in the day. Plus, if you’re tired, you’re more likely to forget things, make mistakes, or skimp on your obligations.
Prioritize proper nutrition. People often talk about the effects of poor sleep. Rarely do we discuss the ramifications of a consistently poor diet. Sure, a pop tart is easy but it’s hardly nutritious. McDonald’s after ball practice on occasion is no problem. Just don’t get in the habit of going for the quick and easy several times a week. If you’re pressed for time, prepare the ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner the night or a couple days before. You can save a lot of time by limiting prep the day of. Slice and dice your produce and trim, season, or marinate your protein in advance, then place everything in clear identifiable containers for easy access. Then all you have to do is get in the pan, oven, or slow cooker when you’re ready.
Reduce your load. Maybe this is the year you say “no.” The world has been spinning for 4.5 billion years. It will keep spinning regardless of whether or not you make book club, finish that antique car restoration on your self-imposed deadline, or have to turn down a trip to the lake house with friends. We can’t be all things to all people all the time. The truth is, we put way more pressure on ourselves to cram in all these activities and social engagements than necessary. Most people will rightfully assume, “They have stuff going on this weekend” or “They’re not feeling their best.” We’re human. Feel free to hang up the cape once in a while.
When all else fails. They have this stuff called wine. 

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this fall, be sure to speak to a local Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty sales professional to get you started. We promise, that will be the easiest thing you do all season!