Savoring September & Back-to-School Time With Teacher & Mom Kim Kusiciel by Elisa Schmitz
It's back-to-school time, and that means chaos reigns supreme in most households with school-age kids! So how do you not give in to the stress and instead find time to enjoy the season with your family? Kim Kusiciel was here to share her inside secrets to "Savoring September!" Kim is not only an elementary school teacher; she's also a mom of three kids ages 13, 12 and 8. Between starting her own school year as a fourth grade teacher and making sure her own kids have a successful start to the year, all while finding ways to savor this season of motherhood and enjoying the big and small moments, her plate is very full.
But she says there's a method to the madness, and she shared it with us – including her top tips on how to savor September.
Q: You and your kids are heading back to school next week. What is it like getting your own kids set up for the year, your household ready and your classroom ready for a new bunch of students?
We spend a good amount of time setting up our spaces at home so that we have successful routines in place once school starts. We also have fun buying school supplies and usually watch a favorite movie while labeling them. Have you seen my hack using washi tape?
This year I am feeling especially nuts because we just moved and I don’t feel quite settled yet. But the kids’ rooms are done, the kitchen is ready and the family room is set. So, the most important kid spaces are back to school ready! It can be tricky to balance the end of summer for them and myself. I have to abandon them for a few hours here and there to go set up my classroom and get things organized at school. And that means that we have to be really purposeful with our time when I’m home.
I’m enjoying all these tips. I’m a busy mom so I love reading ways to keep life easy and less stressful #30Seconds
— Klondike (@TheSaddlers5) August 15, 2019
The hardest part is they feel anxious that summer is ending and they feel the desire to rush around and finish items on their summer bucket list. Of course, we can’t do it all, but I give them choices for activities so that they have some say in how we spend our time. We usually do one last hurrah before school starts. It might be a backyard bash, a s’more party, bowling and pizza or something more extravagant like a weekend away or something big! That usually helps us feel like we ended on a high note!
Q: From a teacher’s point of view, what are some tips you can share with our parent tribe to help them help their kids be successful?
- Create a before-school routine with your kids. They’ll feel ownership over it if they were involved in creating it. Together, you can create a poster, make a magnetic schedule board or design a digital checklist to assist in the following of the routine!
- Make sure the routine includes a checklist for school items like: backpack, gym shoes, lunch, homework, rain or winter gear and anything else your child needs for their school setting. This helps them form good habits to be prepared for school.
- After school, you can set up another routine. Make sure it includes time outside, with your family, small household chores and free time to play. Don’t structure every minute they are home. Allow kids to explore their world to see how they fit in it.
- Finally, talk with your children. Really, listen to them. You might not want to hear about the playground drama or take another tour of their Minecraft world, but they really want to share it. Engage with them now and they will come back to you later when it matters.
I like to keep a positive mind and attitude. Kids learn by example. #30seconds
— 🎉🌟Beth DiMauro🌟🎉 (@BethDimauro) August 15, 2019
Q: You have been known to say that September is on par with December and May as far as craziness goes. Do you still think this and if so, how can we ever savor something so crazy? What do you mean by “Savoring September?”
The short answer, yes. I still think September is the craziest month of the year. But that’s why I’m here to share these tips for success. I want you to feel like you can do it. You can take on September and even savor it!
To me, Savoring September means finding tiny joys in the messy month of September when new routines start, school begins, fall sports schedules are added to the calendar, new demands on family time are made and everybody feels like they are just getting by. However, if you can find small joys in the everyday then you are doing more than surviving September. Your joy is unique to you. It might be the sun shining on your face, finding time to read, knowing that all the laundry is folded or keeping your kids alive.
I’m not joking about that last one. There were many days when my kids were younger when I went to bed and my biggest accomplishment of the day was that I kept all three of them alive. My top mom tip: don’t try to keep up with the mom you see on Instagram. YOU do YOU! In fact, if keeping up with the parent down the block or across the country is too much for you, then take a short social media break. It does wonders for your peace of mind and forces you to focus on what matters most – your family!
#30seconds A3 I totally savor September because in NY it means the end of nice weather
— girlscoutcookies4ever! (@sonlight00) August 15, 2019
Q: What are some ways we can all Savor September, no matter what stage of motherhood or fatherhood we are in?
- The first way to Savor September is to pause and reflect on all the goodness in your life. Make a quick list of five to 10 really great things about your life. I say “things” so that you can personalize the list to your life. I bet your list will be longer than 10 things!
- Then, focus in on two to three items from your list that give you great joy. Think of what allows you to make that a reality in your life. Say yes to that joy! Record it in a Joy Journal or mediate with those joyful thoughts at yoga or while on a run! If you can’t think of anything small that is joyful, then start by asking yourself if waking up, being with your family, or being outside in nature bring you joy. Think of something big and then journal about that. You might just need more time and practice.
- Speaking of practice. Doing this will feel weird at first. Narrowing down your life into just a few things that bring you joy is hard. That’s why a Joy Journal is key. You’ll get better with daily or weekly practice and become very efficient at naming your joys!
— Kim Kusiciel (@KimKusiciel) August 15, 2019
Q: What are some other tips you have to help us enjoy this busy season of parenting?
Another way to Savor September is by being prepared. Prepare meals ahead of time to keep in the freezer or try out a meal delivery service. You can even use grocery delivery services to save time and money by sticking to your weekly list.
Just for September, stick with easy meals, a rotation of recipes or themed dinner nights so that you take the guessing out of meal planning. Make breakfast dishes ahead of time (freeze homemade waffles or mini egg bites) so that mornings go smoothly, too.
Another way to be prepared is with your time. Keep an organized calendar and utilize your smartphone for reminders and to-do lists. Try out an app to help you manage your time online and IRL. If you are a visual person, keep a big to-do list or checklist by your door so that you see it daily. It might not be pretty, but you can tape permission slips or notes from school by the door, too, so you don’t lose them.
Q: We’ve talked all about setting our kids up for a successful start to the year, acknowledged how crazy September can be, learned what it means to savor the crazy, and ways to be prepared. Are we missing anything else before September comes?
My last tips are some small things you can do today to help your September feel less chaotic so that you can enjoy it.
- First up, set up anything you can on an auto-pay program. Doing that just takes one less thing to manage off of your plate.
- Arrange carpools with neighbors or friends for school or practice drop-offs or pick-ups. And help your tweens and teens to arrange some of these on their own. Then, set up reminders on your phone so that you aren’t late or forget to pick somebody up.
- Clean up your inbox. The September emails are about to roll in. Set up new labels for the year. Archive anything from last school year you want to keep, unsubscribe from junk email, and delete what you don’t need. You’ll feel better once that task is done!
- Finally, make sure you set up a little time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be about you. Block off this time in your calendar and don’t schedule something else. If you wouldn’t cancel on your boss, then don’t cancel on yourself. Take care of you!
That sounds delightful! #30Seconds
— Kim Kusiciel (@KimKusiciel) August 15, 2019
Q: What are some ways you lean in and enjoy the September craze yourself?
Once the school year gets under way, I feel like the school routine sets the pace and I can focus on the small joys of getting my kids to practices and extracurriculars ON TIME! I smile when everyone is where they are supposed to be.
I pause and express my gratitude for having a job that affords my children the chance to participate in activities, a vehicle that safely gets us there and a radio that allows me to jam to my own music on my way home!
In these tiny moments, I feel like Supermom and that kind of confidence helps me get through the tougher moments – like when I forget my kid at practice because it ends 15 minutes early due to the sun setting sooner! Yes, that has and probably will happen again. #momfail
My No. 1 way to lean in and enjoy the craze of September is to sometimes throw my hands up and pour myself a hot cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Those first few sips are my ahhhhh moment of zen and they recharge me enough to remind me how lucky I am to be a mom.
.@KimKusiciel your tips are spot on. I love September. Weather is ideal. House empties a bit. And, #Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich, so I get to see @elisatalk in one of her favorite Dirndl’s❣️ #30Seconds https://t.co/4NI2SFIpOO
— Dieter Schmitz (@dieteraschmitz) August 15, 2019
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