Back to School Blues

It’s Monday morning.  Only, it’s not just any Monday morning.  It’s THAT Monday morning. It’s the first day of school. Every Facebook post you see shows a child, dressed in new clothes and shoes, holding a chalkboard sign. You see memes with moms drinking mimosas after putting their little ones on the bus, and you just don’t understand why they are so joyful, when all you feel is emptiness.  

You want to be excited about your children being in school, but you are feeling unimportant and “less than.” You have hours of time alone, that, just last week, was spent making snacks and taking trips to the park. You worry that your child doesn’t need you anymore, and just the thought of that brings you to tears.

First of all, change is difficult for most people, whether their facebook timeline shows it or not.  You are not alone in your feelings, and I guarantee that there are parents all over the country who are having the exact same thoughts as you.

You don’t have to be busy to be a good mom!

Many parents, mothers especially, feel like they have to be doing something for their children all of the time in order to be good parents. The idea that busyness leads to perfection is a trap that is so easy to fall into. We struggle to be everything and do everything for our children, and when we are left with nothing to do for them, we feel insubstantial.  

The truth is, when you are doing everything for everyone else, you are often putting yourself and your own needs last.  The school year is the perfect time to practice self-care.

What can self-care look like while your kids are in school?

  1. Make that doctor or dentist appointment for yourself that you’ve been putting off. Your health matters.
  2. Get a haircut, or get your nails done, or schedule a massage.  Having someone else pamper you for a change is so refreshing.
  3. Go to lunch or coffee with friends. Having an active social life apart from your children will help you with feelings of isolation.
  4. Take up a hobby.  You had passions before parenting.  Now is the time to get back to what makes you feel like you.
  5. Read a book  without any interruptions.  Continuing to learn and grow is necessary and will keep your mind from wandering into the grief zone.
  6. Do volunteer work.  Your child’s school always needs volunteers, but so does the local animal shelter.  Find some way to do for others, and it will do a lot for you in the process.
  7. Do some projects around the house.  Checking off your to-do list is a sure-fire way to feel a sense of accomplishment. Sanding and repainting furniture can be so therapeutic.
  8. Connect with moms/parents groups.  If everyone else’s children are in school, chances are, there are others like you looking to fill up their days too.  You just might make some new friends.
  9. Go to therapy.  It’s important.
  10. Do nothing. Yes, it’s possible to do nothing.  Your family will survive and so will you. Learn to be ok with doing absolutely nothing, if that is what you need to care for you. 

When we are taking care of ourselves, we are actually able to be better parents to our little ones.  You may have heard the expression, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s so true. Dragging yourself down to take care of everyone else doesn’t make you the perfect mom.  A mom who has her cup full will be ready to welcome her children home with open arms. A mom who is emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally healthy is the best kind of mom.  Your job isn’t over because the school year has started. Your children still need you very much, and you’ll be doing your whole family a service by taking the school days to serve yourself.

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