For many around the United States, August is back-to-school season. Lots of supplies being bought, lots of cute first day photos circulating around social media. If you're pregnant and due soon or if you're parent to a new little one, back-to-school can create some added challenges. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you work to juggle to load.
Due Soon During Back-to-School
If your due date timing is around back to school time, it can throw an extra kink into an already busy time. I know this first hand, thanks to my August 24 baby #3 who was born at 41 weeks.
School supply shopping - Lines, walking, waiting, whining -- not a pregnant parent's dream (or any parent's dream, for that matter). You can avoid almost all the hassle altogether with online shopping. Pencils delivered to your doorstep? Yes, please. Alternatively, if the stores in your area offer grocery pick up, place your order and pick it up! If you must go out into the stores, make it easier on your pregnant self by sending your kids to a friend's house for the day or bringing along your partner, a family member, or friend. Pack snacks and water for you and your other children.
First day jitters - Your kids are nervous about their first day, you're nervous about missing out on their first day if you're busy having a baby! Talk through with your child(ren) in advance about this possibility so they won't be caught by surprise if it happens. Decide in advance who will be your back up caregiver on the first day of school in the event you're in labor and talk with them about special traditions you want to keep in place if you're not there. Also consider in advance if you will have your child stay home on the first day if you plan on having them join you during birth or right afterward, and what kinds of preparations need to be made. Most kids are more flexible and adaptable than you think and will adjust fine to a change in plans.
Change in transportation - Schools have specific requirements for a change in transportation or after-school care. Considering you may need to have someone else pick up or care for your child while you are in labor, plan ahead, make arrangements and notify the school in advance.
New Baby During Back-to-School
If you've had a baby within days or weeks of school starting, your heart and your hands will be more full this year. The key to surviving and thriving during this time is the same as it always is: good support. If you are breastfeeding a new baby, you won't be able to leave your little one for lengthy periods of time, which means that instead of finding support to watch your new baby, you'll want to look for support to help out with your older child(ren).
Transportation - Depending on how your child gets to school, you may want to request help during this time of adjustment in the newborn days. It's not uncommon for newborns to have a 5 or 6 a.m. feed and go back to sleep. If you've been up several times in the night, you too will enjoy going back to sleep! Look to your partner, a neighbor, classmate's parents, or family friend to pitch in for pick ups and drop offs.
Homework - Sleeping newborns make it fairly easy to get other things done (in contrast to busy toddlers), so you may not find it difficult to help your child with homework and after-school routines. That said, a "mother's helper" can be helpful in allowing you to easily negotiate the initial balance between a new baby and your other kids' needs.
Sports and activities - Perhaps one of the most challenging juggling acts during the school year is after-school sports and lessons. This is true whether or not you have a new baby! Work to plan in advance for support, carpools, and help to get your other kids to and from activities. It really does take a village. If you are the one taking your child to and from, be sure to pack snacks and plenty of water to keep yourself energized and hydrated.
In many ways, parenting is a great lesson in planning and organization. Some people naturally excel in that department -- others, like myself, learn by trial and error and a whole lotta hustle. If you too are someone who struggles with planning, start thinking about the back-to-school season and the support you'll need right now. It's never too late to recruit help to get you, your new baby, and your older kids off on the right foot!