back to school

A Seamless Back to School

August is "Back to School" Month for many at The Motherhood Collective. We were happy to share this post last year and thought the suggestions were so great, we'd share it again! Even if your child isn't heading back to the classroom, we hope that these thoughts on transition will inspire you. ~TMC ---

Whether you're homeschooling, co-oping, or sending your child to school; your life is about to adjust a bit with the beginning of school! The key to making it a seamless transition is spending some time in preparation! That word "preparation" sometimes sounds like a scary one to me. We have 3 kids (10, 8, and 5). This is my first year with all three kids in school which is a major life change for me. I've had someone with me for almost 11 years, so the first couple days of school have been very emotional. This season is a stressful, but exciting time for each of us!

A goal in our house is to find balance in all areas of our life: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Facing this new season takes our job as moms to a new focus. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a seamless transition and a happy home.

Plan your breakfasts: I fall into the routine of letting my kids have cereal and fruit each morning, but this year I am challenging myself to wake up earlier and fix them a healthy breakfast (realistically a few times a week). Kids need a balance of protein, whole grains and good omega oils to get their days started. Try making them a green smoothie each morning, a fresh juice, some whole grain muffins, buckwheat pancakes, homemade granola or local eggs and 100% whole grain or gluten free toast.

Incorporating omega oils such as chia seeds, flax seeds and other sources have been known to help children behaviorally and mentally. One study says: Supplements of omega-3 and omega-6 oils can improve the behavior of rowdy kids and help language skills, researchers from England have found.During five months, 65 children with behavioral problems were given a daily supplement of omega-3 fish oil in combination with evening primrose oil (omega-6).

Be creative with their lunchbox: There are so many great ideas out there, especially on pinterest, for lunchboxes. Don’t be satisfied with good old PB&J everyday.. although they will probably have it once a week at my house. With just a little thought and changing around ingredients to make their lunchbox more interesting, your kids will enjoy new real foods without any trouble. Introduce a new veggie or fruit each week. Don’t forget a little note from time to time.


Allow time for some exercise: Fall sports leagues, good ol’ playing outside, or a family walk are all good ways for your child to decompress from a day of using their minds. Being part of a team teaches them many valuable lessons as well. Personally, I have a hard time with teams because our kids are gone for so much of our day. I would really like them to be home with us in the evenings. But I have found that each child claiming one season is do-able for us. We would go to our son’s baseball practices and games together as a family.

Plan family dinners: According to an article in TIME magazine: Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use.

An older mom once told me she would prep most of her meals while the children were at school, or do crockpot recipes, so that when her children came home from school her attention would be on them and not dinner. When it is time for dinner, include your children in preparing it. This teaches both responsibility, independence, and a new skill set!

You don’t have to make an elaborate meal, but try doing a Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, or Wacky Wednesday. Our family enjoys "cooking through the nations". Finding new foods from other cultures and making a theme out of dinner not only helps me prepare, but makes it special for the kids. Having a set theme each week will alleviate the stress of meal planning (which I have not mastered yet!).

Come up with a few questions you consistently ask your kids about their day. Allow them to share their happy and sad times while teaching them about the healthy foods they’re eating. Talk about where the food came from and how it was harvested. Give thanks for real food together.

Rest! Rest is not idleness. But it is a time where we stop, relax and enjoy one another. Disconnect from electronics! Reading together, playing games together or walking together allows your child to connect with you emotionally as well as, decompress from a day of mental focus. Allow a day per weekend to really rest and do what your family enjoys most. Many families in our culture do not understand how to rest. We run from event to event, party to party, sport to sport. If we stop for a moment, we can learn so much from one another and care for the emotions that our family is experiencing.

Back to school time is not just about helping their minds, it's about their emotions and their physical development! By feeding your children healthy, real foods and exercising their bodies, they will be strong physically. With your time writing notes, reading to them, and meals shared together, their emotions are free to develop appropriately. May your back to school days be a special time for your family!

Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you! For more on this subject and others, please check out my website!

Back to School After Baby

August is "Back to School" Month at The Motherhood Collective. Over the next few weeks, our writers will be sharing their teaching moments, the ways they encourage learning, their thoughts on education or the things THEY are learning as a parent. Even if your child isn't heading back to the classroom in a few weeks, we hope that our thoughts on learning will inspire you. ~TMC ---

For many adults, choosing to go back to school is a big decision. It means a commitment in time, energy, effort and resources. This is especially true for a woman deciding to go back to school after having a baby. Unlike the single years where a student can schedule large blocks of time without interruption, pull all-nighters when necessary and hang out at the coffee shop all day, the college-bound mommy has to juggle her daily responsibilities on top of her school work. The good news is it’s not impossible to manage both- it just takes a little more planning and effort!Camera

When I decided to pursue a Masters of Fine Art degree in Photography after our first-born son was just four months old, many people flatly told me I was crazy. After a while, I began to wonder if they were right. Could I actually manage to spend quality time with my son and husband, cook, clean, exercise and study? The answer is yes. Sure, there were crazy times and a few late nights (try 3 a.m.), but after two semesters of trial and error, I feel that I finally found the mommy/student balance that works for me. For all of you lovely ladies considering a return to school after starting a family, let me offer you some advice that can save you a little time and perhaps gives you the encouragement you need:

Be Realistic. Let’s face it, being a mom means that your study sessions will be interrupted…a lot. Have realistic goals of what you can and want to accomplish each day. If you expect too much, you may be disappointed when half of your school related “to do” list remains undone. Aim for a balanced day, where no one aspect dominates your time and attention (unless it is your baby that needs you, of course). Keep this in mind when you schedule your week: “How much can I realistically get done?” Know that this will most likely change- up to several times a day- and that’s okay.

Touch it every day. Sure, you may not be able to dedicate large blocks of time to school every day. You can still accomplish more than you expect and avoid cramming when deadlines approach by doing a little bit each day. Aim to work on tasks (reading, writing, etc.) in small chunks of time. Have 30 minutes? Try to get through one chapter. If you do this throughout the day, you can quickly read the week’s reading assignments. Do this every day, it will add up throughout the week.

Work Around Their Schedule. Try to have a general schedule with your baby in mind that you work around every day. For instance, if your baby takes a longer morning nap, dedicate that time to working on school. Once he or she awakes, close the books. If you know that a portion of your day is dedicated to your studies (no matter how small), you will feel comfortable leaving it undone, knowing that you will return to it later that day or tomorrow.

Stay Flexible. Let’s face it- babies are unpredictable…and that’s okay. If there’s a day (or two) that schoolwork goes untouched, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t be afraid to close the books and devote your attention to your baby. Just return to your normal routine when life allows. Ultimately, your family is more important than a paper, but be proud of the fact that you are still making an effort to improve yourself too.

Tag Team. If you are fortunate to have the support of a husband, family members or friends, let them help you by taking the baby out to run errands, for a trip to the park, or to their house for a nap. Even 30 minutes can make a huge difference- giving you the opportunity to plan, start writing a paper or catch up on reading.

Remember What You’re Doing: You’re Learning! Having a baby and going back to school are similar: it’s a learning process. The key word here is process. Don’t get discouraged if everything does not click into place within the first few weeks or the first semester for that matter. It will take time to find what works for you! Be patient, remember why you decided to go to school, and see this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself- what you are capable of, how you work best, and what is most important to you. Constantly evaluate how you are doing, celebrate the successes no matter how small, and make adjustments when needed. The point is, you are learning and growing!

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