Back to school time is here! Either you’re a few weeks in or just starting with the new routine. Either way, you’re still in a transition period with your kids as you get used to fall schedules for school and extra-curriculars.

Last week I shared behavior tools for your kids. This week- let’s focus on YOU- the parent who is also going through a transition time as YOUR schedule is changing to accommodate the kids’ fall schedule needs. So many schedules, so little time!

What can you do as a parent to set yourself up for success during this (and any) transition time? My question for you is, “What do you need right now?” In this exact moment as you are reading this. What do YOU need? Right now?

This seems like a simple question, but so many moms I’ve worked with struggle to answer it. I need too many things. There’s not time or money for these things. I need help and support and don’t know how to find it, so how do you expect me to answer the question “What do you need right now?”

Bring it down a level to the right now.

Here is a list of things that you may find helpful during this busy season of transition for your family.

Carve out just a few minutes for yourself BEFORE time with your kids.
This may be before your kids get up in the morning, before picking them up from school/ childcare, and before bedtime routine starts in full force.
This means getting up before them in the morning to catch your breath, slowly and mindfully enjoying some delicious coffee, getting lunches packed without interruption, doing your hair or makeup, whatever is helpful for you.

I know getting up early isn’t awesome for most of us, but a few minutes alone to prepare for the morning routine rush can make a big difference. I promise!

Before picking kids up from school or childcare- can you set an alarm on your phone for 5 minutes early? What would fill your cup in 5 minutes or less? Get a cold drink of water or something else? Mindlessly scroll Instagram? Do a meditation or some breathing alone in your car or wherever you are? Text a friend. Send a meme or three. Answer that text you received 3 days ago and forgot to respond to.

Before bedtime routines, ask your partner to be in charge while you go outside and take some deep breaths. Build in a few minutes of independent play or reading time to your routine so that mom can take a short breather to hit the reset button.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to self-soothe, self-regulate, and be better prepared to maintain some level of patience on hard days. But it does take a plan of action.

Try setting a timer or alarm on your phone to take a 5 minute break for yourself.  A request for just a tiny bit of help from someone else if you can is likely to make a big difference. A sticky note reminder on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, next to the coffee maker, etc. to help you remember to do whatever it is to be on board with making time for self-care.

So when I ask, “What do you need right now?”, bring it down to the right now level.

What’s something you can make happen right now? What are some things that help you regulate your own system when you are overstimulated, overworked, overtired? What are some doable, plannable things you can actually take action to do in the here and now to help yourself?

Take away: Find something you can do in the moment and make a plan to make it happen!

If you really aren’t’ sure what things help you to regulate because you’ve been too overstimulated, overworked, overtired, and overwhelmed to even try it- here’s a place to start.

Try one of these things listed below and see if it is helpful. It’s a trial-and-error process. Try something, and if it helps, write it down to remember it! If it doesn’t help, maybe don’t keep trying that one and move on.

This is not an exhaustive list but rather a starting point to help you brainstorm things that you can do in the moment to help you self-regulate.

  • Deep breathing (check out box breathing here)
  • Walking away
  • Fresh air
  • Exercise
  • Mindful drinking/ eating
  • Calling a friend
  • Looking at pictures of happy things/ memories
  • Notice and name your thoughts out loud (Read more here)
  • Read a book
  • Journal
  • Draw or doing something creative
  • Dance, walk, move your body
  • Keep going with ideas of things that help your body regulate!

So when I ask, “What do you need right now?”, don’t let it overwhelm you with all the big things you needs.

Instead, realize it’s asked out of kindness and compassion for the RIGHT NOW things that we DO have control over.

Be smart about it, and plan ahead for a few moments throughout the day to hit the reset button and do something for you. And when that alarm goes off for your 5 minutes of solo time- don’t ignore it. Don’t snooze it away.

Don’t use that time to do something productive for your family or your job. In the end, that’s less productive because you aren’t at your best.

As you enter this new week ahead, ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” – Answer yourself. And then do it. Try it out. See how it works for you!