How to Beat the Back-to-School AND Back-to-Work Crunch!

We know it’s coming – the dreaded back-to-school crunch – but every year we seem to be caught off guard. Plus, as we struggle with the beginning of a new school year, work projects on hold for the summer suddenly go into overdrive as fourth quarter/year-end is just around the corner.

It’s a double whammy recipe for disaster unless moms and dads take action now.

As I explain in my new book, Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, (Center Street/Hachette), parents can get ahead of the mayhem by adding these simple “tweaks” to their weekly work+life fit check-in the last couple of weeks in August:

First, identify, breakdown and plan the back-to-school activities typically encountered every year. For example:

  • Add 2013-2014 school dates into your calendar, including extra-curricular sport and activities.
  • If your kids haven’t started school yet, review the “summer pre-work” your child may have and count back from the first day of school to set a reasonable schedule for completion. Minimize the last minute all-nighters.
  • Buy school supplies early, before the line is out the door and the shelves are picked clean (I seem to find myself in those lines every year!)
  • Take advantage of back-to-school sales to buy a couple of basic needs but count on shorts and t-shirts for the first few weeks. Saves money and unworn clothes in the closet.

Next, think about projects and responsibilities at work that will require attention after Labor Day:

  • Sit down with your boss to clearly identify projects and priorities for September and October.
  • Ask if there is anything you and the team could do to prepare and get a jump-start on. Right now, we are planning for upcoming consulting projects and speaking engagements that will gear up after Labor Day.
  • Share dates you may need to take off or have additional flexibility around back-to-school, such as first day(s) of drop off and pick up.
  • Leave the evenings and weekends the week before and two weeks after the start of school as free and uncommitted as possible.
  • If you have to schedule out of town travel or evening work activities, make sure you coordinate with your partner or friends for child care coverage well in advance. I have a trip to San Francisco the week after my kids start school, but I am already thinking about what I need to arrange before I leave.

A little bit of thoughtful planning, discussion and action now, can limit the back-to-school stress, and the fourth-quarter work frenzy later.

What do you do to beat the back-to-school AND back-to-work crunch?

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