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Fall is right around the corner and you’ve found yourself dividing your time between diaper changes and backpack fittings. If you’re a parent of both school-aged children and a baby, balancing back-to-school season can feel overwhelming, but will soon become a very normal part of your routine.
Keep reading for some tips on juggling the back-to-school transition with a little one at home.
Follow the K.I.S.S. Rule
Keep It Simple, Silly! This season often comes with a mile-long to-do list. School clothes, lunch items, and classroom supplies need to be gathered in the midst of late summer nights, career maintenance, and important family time. Your children are at the age where they’ll outgrow everything, so not all items you acquire for the year need to be brand new, nor will your child typically need the entire inventory of their supplies list. Don’t be afraid to get creative, thrift clothing, find little free libraries, or reuse perfectly good supplies. Not only will this save you a lot of money to put toward groceries, diapers, and formula, but it can save you time and space, too.
A lot of families hesitate when they hear “reuse” in terms of school supplies, but it really comes down to the connotation that you give things. Pencils and crayons can be resharpened, notebooks are seldom filled to the brim, and folders can be DIYed with new labels and fun designs. If you encourage your child to embrace this time, they’ll gain a greater sense of independence and learn how to minimize waste. If you’re still looking to celebrate a new year, or just want your child to have something extra special, consider letting them choose one or two core items to buy new and enjoy.
Take Advantage of the Midday Lull
With one child away at school and another at home, you’ll have a 4 – 8 hour break from a full house. “Lull” might not be the best word for it, but there are a lot of ways to make the most of this timeframe and give yourself less to do when everyone is back for the evening. What’s more, you can involve your child fully as a helper, or just keep them safely nearby before returning to play and quality time together. If you don’t work from home, consider tidying up major surfaces, heading to the market for last-minute dinner items, or prepping ingredients for a faster meal later on. Hiring a daytime babysitter to come in a couple times each week can also free up time for major errands and appointments, or allow you to help your school-aged children with homework once they’re home while your baby is being watched.
Another important aspect of your midday routine is to have quiet time with your little one. On top of naturally needing more sleep, parent-child bonding is vital for their health and development. These moments alone together – perhaps just before or after naptime – provide a great buffer to all the sounds and sensations of a day, and can give you a physical and mental break to spend intentional time with your youngest. What’s more, you’ll be more in-tune with their expressions of need when things get busy.
Prepare for Present & Future
If you’re newer to the multi-child juggle, you’re likely also newer to the expenses that come with it. The back-to-school season is a great checkpoint for evaluating your finances, setting a budget, and making sure that your family’s core needs are being met throughout your children’s ages and stages. Car seats should be checked for wear and appropriate sizing, and the time you have alone at home with your littles can help you see how they’re growing into – or out of – certain furniture, safety features, and toys.
This in-between is also an excellent time for you and your partner to create a financial action plan for your children’s futures. Whether you’d like them to have a college fund, investments, or general savings, you’ll want to adjust now to save later. One great way to pursue this is to target debt payoff. Student loans, mortgages, and car payments are often a multi-decade burden on families, so it’s important to see where your monthly payments lay and which you could target without sacrificing your savings. Student loans can often be consolidated or paid off in larger amounts without penalty and refinancing to today’s 15-year mortgage rates can guarantee more aggressive payments with lower interest. Any of these options can free up your finances by the time your children are out of high school, a major milestone in your entire family’s financial health.
Reestablish Your Routine
Just as any other routine you’d like to establish in your life, habits for bedtime, breakfast, and catching the bus can take weeks, if not, months to set. With the summer bringing longer days and your infant’s care likely calling for overnights and designated nap times, you’ll want to find a middle ground that works for your family.
There are three key components to making the most out of your routine: maintain basic habits year round, give everything extra time, and split the workload. Maintaining basic habits with your children helps to automate their independence and need-fulfillment. Having them pick outfits before they go to bed, taking care of morning hygiene, and keeping your little’s feeding and napping within a consistent time frame are all great examples of creating and moderating natural cycles for your family. These are important for dependability, time management, and eliminating morning breath.
By giving everything a 15 minute buffer with your morning, night, and travel routines, you’re allowing yourself room for an extra diaper change, potty break, spill, and so on. It’s not uncommon knowledge amongst parents that minor chaos likes to follow time-sensitive deadlines, so give yourself some grace here.
Last, but never least, splitting the workload is a practical option. Whether you have a partner, family, or friends helping to raise your kids, it’s important that you communicate your needs and work to make things as efficient as possible. Perhaps one parent covers everyone’s meals and the other covers wake-up calls, hygiene, and diaper changes. Dad can cover school drop-off on his way to work and mom can have quiet time at home with the baby or work remotely. Regardless of the direction you choose, you’ll want to ensure that all of your children are receiving the proper time and attention to start their days off right.