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Challenge: Get Happy!

The Back-To-School Reset Plan

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I tell myself to celebrate the small victories. If I can get my 4-year-old to put her socks, shoes, and backpack on all by herself, I've hit a preschool trifecta that morning!

My ongoing quest is to find some back-to-school juju with our two kids every morning. Like a mystical utopia, I believe in it - even though I've never quite achieved it. I'm talking about a calm morning routine, healthy breakfast, and getting out the door in an orderly fashion. I'm aiming high this year but I truly want our mornings to serve as a spring board to a great day. And not just for my kids, but for myself.

This is why my family is in the pilot phase of The Back-To-School Reset Plan. Laser beams accompanied by a killer sound clip should have shot out of those words as you read them just now. My theory is that our plan is so basic that it is just often overlooked. There are 4 steps that must be done to reset ourselves and the goal is to give everyone a fresh start. Here is how it must play out:

Step One: Oversimplify
Do you know what frequently costs us a few extra minutes in our morning routine? Having to run upstairs due to a forgotten pair of socks. My 7-year-old is easily distracted. Often he will come running down the stairs with something other then said socks. Step One now requires that socks are waiting in the shoes for the next morning. Simplify the little things that often trip us up.

Step Two: Clean and Clear
This is the toughest for me and the most critical. Step Two requires wiping away the damage from the day before both literally and figuratively. If the car is a wreck, it has to be cleaned out prior to the next morning. If the counter is full of clutter, it has to be cleaned off so that I'm not accumulating anything from the day before.

Step Three: Loosen Up
Especially if it is a particularly difficult morning, Step Three requires the ability to loosen up. So we didn't execute the plan fully. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Things happen and Step Three involves being able to remember that without getting too frustrated. Easier said than done, but I often try and remember that little hearts are learning how to manage stress by watching us. We were 3 minutes late the first week of school...and it was okay.

Step Four: Appreciate
When I used to commute in NYC, I'd always feel like I accomplished something before the work day even began just by getting to where I needed to be. Step Four involves taking 30 seconds to recognize an accomplishment for each family member and saying it out loud. Here's our 30-second hug before getting out of the car on the first day of school.


You can often see me trying to grab a cup of tea and an ounce of clarity as I head out the door in the mornings. Parenting is a process but I'm glad to share the ride with the TODAY Parenting Team.

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