This is a special blog for all the parents in our community! In writing it I wanted to leverage all I’ve learned through my mindfulness practice, as well as my deep knowledge of nature’s elements that are inherent in us all and always at work (for or against us!). Wouldn’t it be great to approach this Back to School season with grace and ease? In fact, wouldn’t it be great to rise above the stress and gain energy, productivity, and peace? YES, it’s possible! Give this mind, body & soul approach a try and let me know how it goes!
Before we jump into the HOW, I would like to invite you to take this opportunity to shift your perspective about this time of year. Our intentions can truly drive how we feel, and ultimately, how we act. If, for example, you’re saying to yourself, “Oh no, not again! Here comes a hectic month of no sleep, awful traffic, stressed kids, and no time for me!” Well, the Universe is saying right back to you, “Your wish is my command!” Yikes!
Let’s make the shift now. Here’s how to do it with our mind, body and soul in the lead.
Preparing for the new school year can feel like having lots of erratic little fires all over the place! In nature, we can nurture these fires by adding wood to create a slow, steady burn. We can look at the element of wood as our Inner Warrior, who strategically calculates the next step, and the one thereafter, getting us to our final destination. Our warrior cares about getting things done effectively and successfully. When we have too many things to do (especially in our head, or on lots of sticky notes!) and we are scattered and un-organized, we need to bring in that warrior essence of strategy and organization. In doing so, we take small steps that allow us to remove the scatter and focus on what we are doing NOW – one moment at a time. Our Inner Warrior – when grounded and focused, helps us to be those awesome, on-task parents that we want to be during back-to-school season, not the freaky, burned-out ones!
If you’re feeling scattered, here’s a tip to put out all those fires:
Back to School Brain Dump! Let’s get all those to-do’s and “fires” out of your head and onto paper/into action!
- Block off 30 minutes of quiet time. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down EVERYTHING that needs to get done by the first day of school, and for the first few weeks of school (heck…the first month!). There doesn’t need to be any organization at this point, just a list of items.
- If the task needs to (ultimately) be completed by someone other than you (or in partnership with you), place and arrow with the person’s initial’s next to it. See my list here!
- Put an asterisk next to those items that are the most critical and put those into your calendar as non-negotiable appointments now. Check out my calendar below! As you can see I use iCalendar to help me stay accountable to myself. It really helps to think of my to-do’s as appointments so I make room for them during my day. If you use another system that works for you, stick with that! Sometimes I’ll also create a task list (with check-off boxes) on my phone, which syncs with all my devices. Do what is best for you, but definitely make your list actionable and accountable.
By doing these three simple things, you’ll have calmed the many fires and created one slow, peaceful, productive burn!
Warriors also begin each day with powerful and focused intentions. Create an intention for yourself that you will focus on each morning for 5 or 10 minutes. You can do this while driving to work, while drinking your morning cup of coffee, or getting that first blast of morning sunshine as the birds rise and chirp away. You also can keep your intention with you (post it in your car, on your computer, etc.) during the day to remind you. My intention for this back to school season is: “I have all the time and energy I need to create an exciting back to school launch for my kids.” With this intention, these tasks now become less stressful and more enjoyable.
In doing this, you become the creator of your thoughts, and not the passenger going along for the ride, as Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, would say.
In nature, not only does wood help nurture the fire, but it also controls earth out of balance. We can look at earth as our “Mother” energy, which can give, give, give, and do, do, do —for others, while leaving herself depleted. So, in addition to bringing in our effective Inner Warrior, we also can use our earthy mother energy to “mother” ourselves too!
We can nourish our bodies by giving them healthy, satisfying food, and by energizing them. This is not the time to indulge in mindless eating — fast or junk food (which will actually drain your energy and rob you of the nutrients you’ll need to sustain you), but rely on foods that warm you and comfort you—like mom would make you! It can be as simple as having a nourishing bowl of oatmeal with raisins and nuts in the morning to get you going, and a cup of hot mint tea with honey at night. Perhaps your feel-good food is a green smoothie in the morning instead. That’s okay too! You know what your body needs to run effectively. Plan for that and make it happen.
Also, study after study shows that even 10 minutes of physical activity in the morning will jump start your metabolism and energize your mind, giving you that push of energy first thing in the AM to accomplish all of those to-do’s. Now, I say 10 minutes, because I know how mornings are with kids!! What I love to do right before I jump in the shower is a few reps of jumping jacks, squats, push ups, side and forward stretches, and sit-ups. If I can work in a walk later, great, but if not, I’ve done my body good in between 6 and 10 minutes. Just wake up 10 minutes earlier and get it done! Give your body permission to work for you and nourish you!
In nature, the element of water serves many purposes. It provides hydration, deep rest, and can help to suppress, or “water down” our tendency to do too much. It replenishes us and prepares us for the work ahead—our Inner Warrior work! We can consciously bring in this element by drinking enough water each day (a minimum of half of our body weight in ounces); taking relaxing baths or showers (or a dip in the beach!); reading; meditating (to the sound of the ocean, even better!); getting enough sleep, and YES, going with the flow! If something does not get done, even though we have planned effectively, we can consciously accept it and move on. Our souls can feel neglected when we are so focused on getting things done, so hydrate your soul by making time for at least 1-2 of these kinds of activities (for you and your kids!) each day during back to school season. My daughter and I love to have hot tea together each night, and then we’ll read a bit from her summer reading book. What does your soul need from you?
What I hope you’ve picked up on is that we should do our very best to create greater balance during this both exciting and stressful time each year. In approaching the season from the framework of care for our Mind, Body & Soul, we also are creating that balance for our children, who also may be experiencing the excitement and stress of going back to school, especially if it is a big transition for them (first time, middle to high school, new school, etc.). We also will be ensuring that we are not running on empty or reserves, but on a full tank — a tank of internal strength and stamina to launch the school year with invigoration.
Wishing you lots of luck this back-to-school season!
It’s your life, lead it well!