A new marketing message has been popping up online, have you seen it? Messages are blasting that September is the new January featuring cheery, happy parents dancing around with mimosas after waving the kids off to school. The message is clear. Moms, the kids are back in school so now is the time to sit back and relax after a long, harried summer! Set new goals for hand-crafted dinners and extensive menu-planning! Visit the farmer’s market every week and hand select the best locally grown purple carrots for your kids! Lovingly do this and painstakingly do that! You’ve got time to do it all!
We need to get real here. September is NOT the new January.
September is nothing but a nightmare! Get this. Three kids. Three schools. Three sets of dozens of forms (when are going digital people?? Seriously!!) Three curriculum nights, three soccer teams, outdoor education info nights, orchestra meetings, back-to-school potlucks, carpool setup, PTSA kickoffs, meet the teachers, meet the parents, meet the other kids!
It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom or a work outside the home mom, this is the month that will bleed you dry if you try to keep up some unrealistic image of what back-to-school freedom looks like.
Here are some things that have gotten particularly messy for us this month:
1. There are no purple carrots in my veggie drawer. I bought a three-pound bag of green beans at Costco and we are eating them every day.
2. There are no matched socks anymore. Laundry is washed, dried, folded and left of the sofa. Every sock gets dumped into giant bag for everyone to match for themselves.
3. Taco Tuesday has sort of turned into twenty ways to ‘taco!’ Again.
I try not to lose my mind or lose my temper, but September takes me right to the edge and everyone in my house knows that my patience and tolerance drop to near zero levels.
By the third week of September, my knees are bloody from crawling through another week of insanity.
In order to keep my kids from moving into the treehouse, I have found that shortcuts become my life.
Here are five ways you can survive the weeks when you think you can’t mommy any more:
1. Don’t menu plan like Martha Stewart. Pick two meals your family likes and double it. That covers four days. Find another meal for your crock pot one day. The other two days rotate between something BBQ’d, something with eggs (quiche is super simple!), something with precooked rotisserie chicken or seasoned tofu.
2. Ask for help. Yes, I can supermom all day long but who wants me to do everything and then snap when someone makes spills some water on the floor? Two neighborhood kids going to the same place at the same time? Ask for carpool help for a few weeks until you can reciprocate.
3. Take a walk. I know this seems counterintuitive. You have no time, you are stressed to the max, the last thing you want to do is waste precious time walking around. I get it! But, did you know that a couple of things will happen? First, you will have more energy and clarity to tackle your to-do list. Second, you can create the mental space to think about this endless list and reduce, remove or reschedule items that aren’t critical or urgent. When everything is screaming in your mind, you can’t hear the whispers of the things that can wait.
4. Phone a friend. Phone your mom. Phone your sister. Tell them you are overwhelmed and you are hitting your wall and then listen to their words. They will either tell you that you are strong and capable and you can make it through, or they will tell you that you are strong and capable and you need to cut out all the crap making you crazy. Either way, listen to them.
5. Practice some self-care. You need to sit at your computer? Pour some hot water and Epsom salt into a bucket and soak your feet while you pay your bills or fill out the endless online forms. You need to walk the dog? Install a walking meditation app and let your mind escape for a few minutes. Kids going nuts? Bust out the beats and hold a dance party to get your shimmy on. Everyone melting down? Put on Zootopia, crawl onto the sofa beside them and have a little nap.
Be gentle with yourself.
Be kind to yourself.
Be proud of yourself.
You are in the trenches of motherhood and it can be dark and scary and overwhelming, but you know deep down that this is just now, this isn’t always.
And you aren’t alone.