The back-to-school season always comes with a wealth of emotions and challenges. The stream of never-ending after school activities, the homework quarrels, and the evening dinner prep can feel all-consuming in an instant. Before you know it, you’re hurling yourself to the weekend finish line only to start all over again on Monday.
Last year’s back-to-school season in particular put parents under enormous pressure as they struggled to navigate the new normal of COVID-19. From in-class learning to lunchtime with friends, every aspect of the school day was affected by new rules and regulations to help keep children and their families safe.
While this year’s school season should feel more normal, keeping children on track while creating a happy home has and always will be a challenge. Fortunately, we’ve got tips to help you reduce stress and stay on top of your goals this year. From simplifying meal prep and keeping your kids organized to helping you find ways to relax, these tricks will make the back-to-school season manageable, even fun.
Spend less time food-prepping and more time with your family.
Meal planning can often cause parents to feel more stress than other aspects of running a home. Coming up with lunch and dinner ideas just takes up a lot of headspace.
If you’re dreading the back-to-school season because of meal planning, it’s time to give yourself a breather and leave the rules behind for a few days each week. Tyson® and Jimmy Dean® products can give you the freedom and flexibility you need whenever after-school activities and homework are eating up your cooking time. Tyson® Chicken Nuggets and Crispy Chicken Strips, for example, pair perfectly with your favorite steamed veggies or fresh fruit to create a balanced, simplified dinner, without the tasks of cooking or meal prep. They’re also both kid-approved and made with ingredients you can feel good about serving.
Why we like them:
- Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside
- Made with natural, minimally processed chicken raised with no antibiotics, added hormones, or steroids
Tyson® and Jimmy Dean® products have you covered for breakfast and lunch, too. Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles® Meat Lovers Breakfast Cups are the perfect solution for those unpredictable days where you’re always on the go. Made with real eggs, cheese, sausage, and bacon, a breakfast cup contains a whopping 23 grams of protein. Pop it in the microwave, and it’s ready in seconds. If your kids prefer sandwiches, try out the savory Jimmy Dean® Sausage, Egg and Cheese Croissant on a buttery croissant for an extra-special treat. You can also turn them into tasty meals by adding simple sides, such as carrots, celery, and an apple and serving “breakfast” for dinner.
Why we like them:
- Made with real ingredients and ready in seconds
- Great for breakfast or just a snack
Above all, remember that it’s okay to go easy on yourself during the back-to-school season. Doing so will help make those impossible days feel more possible and reduce stress so you can make it to the weekend. Enjoying fun, hassle-free meals with Tyson® and Jimmy Dean® products you can easily pick up at Walmart is the perfect break for you and a treat for the whole family.
Prep school outfits and other necessities the day before.
Do you struggle every morning to get your child out the door on time? One of the top distractions that slows down children in the early hours (and some parents!) is finding the right outfit. So, save yourself the hassle by helping your child pick out an outfit the night before. You don’t necessarily have to choose the clothing yourself, especially if you have a child who desires a little independence. Once the outfit is chosen, however, make sure your child knows there is no changing it in the morning.
Because children are so impressionable and will immediately notice if you aren’t following the same rules, try and keep yourself on the same routine. By establishing bedtime practices that the whole family follows, you can help your child learn time-saving techniques that will save everyone a headache in the morning.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin.
Imagine this: Your phone rings in the middle of the day. It’s one of the moms at your child’s school asking if you can participate in the bake sale next week or chaperone the school dance on Friday. You might have the time to squeeze it into your schedule, but it would be putting other family priorities on hold. What do you do?
If you have a hard time saying no, especially when you don’t have an honest excuse ready, tell the caller, “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” This frees you from answering right on the spot. It also gives you the time to not only check your schedule, but decide if you actually have the energy to help. If you do have the energy, remember that you don’t have to go above and beyond. Bake-sale treats don’t have to be made entirely from scratch, and chaperoning might not have to be an all-night commitment. Ultimately, it’s okay to say “no” and focus on your priorities before stretching yourself too thin.
Pamper yourself during the week.
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important ways to ease stress and prevent burn out. If you have a little free time while your kids are at school, go for a walk, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, take a bath, or splurge on a massage or a manicure. Even a simple pampering activity that requires just a small amount of your time, such as stretching or taking a nap, can revitalize you and give you the energy to be fully present for the rest of the day.
One study published in the BMC Medical Education Journal in 2018 found that those who engage in self-care tend to feel less stressed and have a higher quality of life. Other data shows that self-care can greatly improve your mental health and positively affect how you act, make choices, and interact with others. In other words, it can make a good impact on your day-to-day interactions with your family members. Remember that your mood can greatly influence the moods of your children and spouse. A little self-care can go a long way in creating a positive atmosphere.
Dive into creativity.
As an extension of self-care, finding ways to express your creativity during the week can do wonders for your mood. Whether you like to paint, play an instrument, dance, or write, having a creative outlet will make a week full of chores and to-dos feel far less mundane. Better yet, research shows that creative activities can improve brain function, mental health, and physical health.
Getting into the flow of an activity to the point that you lose track of time is actually a good thing. Coloring, for example, requires repetitive motion that can feel soothing and help take your mind off of daily stressors. This relaxing effect has been compared to meditation in the ways that it quiets the mind and helps you focus. Other studies have shown that arts and crafts can reduce symptoms of dementia, and writing may even boost immunity. Once you complete a project, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of happiness. Dopamine acts as a reward for your brain and motivates you to complete other tasks, which is a win-win for you and your busy schedule.
Don’t have enough time for both self-care and creativity? Try combining your inner artist with your chores. Gardening or house decorating, for instance, can give you a creative outlet while helping you complete tasks and enhance your home. Creativity in meal making has a wealth of benefits, too.
Whether you decorate your Tyson® and Jimmy Dean® products with ketchup smiley-faces or make a vegetable rainbow with ranch dip for clouds, a little creativity at mealtime will keep dinner interesting. Plus, it can entice even the pickiest of eaters to take a bite.
With the right mindset and tools to tackle the back-to-school season, we’re sure you’ll pass with flying colors.
This story is sponsored by Tyson® and Jimmy Dean®.