Back to school has an entire range of new stressors if you're juggling a family and relationship. Extra responsibilities, errands, appointments, and homework can all wreak havoc on your immune system, sex life, and build tension in families. Here are tips to alleviate some of the stress, so you can build a healthy and relaxing routine.
1. Get vaccinated
Fall is finally here! With more time spent indoors, classrooms and offices can become hot beds for bacteria and viruses (and it compounds if you take public transit). This is the perfect time to double check that your kids are up-to-date with their vaccines and make sure your family is also equipped with their flu shots. Every year the same rumors about flu shots being unnecessary float around, the CDC has continued to recommend it every year as it is one of the greatest preventive measures against catching the flu. The shot is fully covered by most insurance plans and many locations offer free or low-cost vaccines for those that aren't covered. Remember - even a perfectly healthy person can suffer major complications from the flu, so don't think you're exempt!
2. Set bedtimes (and sex time)
Set bedtimes for yourself and your kids. Not only is it crucial for maintaining routine but it helps ensure you get all the regenerative benefits of a good night's sleep. If you have younger children, it also allows you to have some private time for yourself or to spend time with your partner. Remember to be physical at bedtime as well, even if it’s cuddling to watch a movie. Regular physical connectedness is good for your relationship and your relaxation. It’s also healthy to schedule sex too!
3. Ask for help
Although many mothers work full or part-time, there still seems to be a lot of pressure on women and femmes to provide a majority of child care and take over household responsibilities. There is no shame in asking your partner to take on greater responsibility around the house or take over a specific aspect of childcare (like taking kids to extracurriculars or being responsible for bedtime reading). Children can also easily be given chores at all ages to help alleviate some of the burden. Setting up a family calendar can make chore scheduling easy and build a sense of responsibility in children. If you're having a difficult time negotiating help with your spouse, consider working housecleaning services into your budget.
4. Plan date nights
It's easy to lose connection with a partner during high stress times --this is especially true for people that are raising children. Make intentional plans with your partner regularly to have "adult only" time. Not only will this boost your own connectedness, but it's important for children to see parents together that are happy.
5. Plan solo time
In addition, don't forget yourself. Time with family is important but everyone needs regular solo time to engage in their own interests and recharge. Even if things are truly chaotic, try to always schedule a little alone time (even if that just means getting up earlier to have a cup of coffee solo and catch up on some reading).
6. Say thank you/sorry and touch often
It's no secret that during times of stress, people fight more. We tend to take those closest to us for granted but this builds resentment over time. Take the time to say "thank you" (even if you think you don't get thanked for doing equal work) and "sorry" (when you had some blame in a problem). Typically, when the ball of compassion gets rolling your partner will follow suit - we're built for connection and cooperation!
And don't underestimate the power of touch either. Hug your kids before they go to school and tell them how much you love them, kiss your partner goodnight and tell them how much you appreciate them, hold hand while watching TV or high-five your children when you're proud of them. Regular physical contact is important and boosts connection while reducing stress (win-win).
7. Don't compare
It is easy to feel like you've completely failed as a mom and partner when you look at heavily curated posts on social media that show people flawlessly getting through life. We already know that too much time on social media is bad for us and that people typically only post their own highlights. Take social media breaks often and be grateful for all the small pieces of joy you get to have in your own life.
 Influenza (Flu). (2018, September 06). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
 Levi, A. (n.d.). The Case for Scheduling Sex, According to a Relationship Expert. Retrieved from https://www.health.com/sex/benefits-of-scheduling-sex
 McCarthy, J. (n.d.). What Kids Learn from Your Marriage. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/what-kids-learn-from-your-marriage/
 Brown, J. (2018, January 05). Future - Is social media bad for you? The evidence and the unknowns. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180104-is-social-media-bad-for-you-the-evidence-and-the-unknowns