Plan YOUR Back-to-School Self-Care


I’m in the midst of back-to-school planning, logistically and mentally. Buying school supplies, planning lunches, making sure everyone has clothes and shoes that fit, and strategizing schedules. If you’re like me, you’ve already begun thinking about how to make things run smoothly to keep me sane(ish).

Are you with me?

Whatever you do, don’t forget the most important piece in making sure things run smoothly: you.

That’s right, mama, you.

It’s so easy to get caught up in preparing the kids for fall and a return to school that we often forget that taking care of ourselves is the most important piece.

What happens when we commit to our own well-being FIRST (aka not an afterthought or a solution to burnout)? 

Person journaling holding an orange penI know for myself, I cultivate so much more joy when I make a plan and create strategies for taking care of myself. 

Without a plan, I seem to get forgotten in the mix. Does this happen to you too?

Remember: we nurture others the best when we feel nurtured ourselves. So, let’s find the best ways that you can nurture yourself, and make a PLAN for when, how, and why to work them into your back-to-school planning.

Not sure where to start?

If you’re not used to making yourself a priority, or you’ve gotten off track, let’s start simple.

Small, consistent shifts that feel manageable to implement are the secrets to bigger changes.

It’s ok to start small! In fact, I highly recommend it. You do NOT need to change everything all at once.

Let’s walk through this together, ok? I’m right here with you, doing all of this right there with you. 

What, Why, and Strategy

Step 1: WHAT

Get clear on what is most meaningful to you. What are the things that make you feel the most grounded and inspired? 

  1. Find a quiet moment (I know this can feel so hard, so get creative and prioritize it. Consider it a vital part of back-to-school planning.).
  2. Make a list of ALL the things that make you feel the most nurtured, inspired, energized, or whatever is most meaningful to you. (Tip: try first focusing on small things you can easily do daily or 2-3 times a week.)
  3. Circle the top 1-3 to begin your journey with.

Step 2: WHY

Reflect on why you’ve chosen those 1-3 things. Don’t skip this step! It will help you prioritize it if you can get clear on why it’s important to you.

  1. Write each one on a separate piece of paper.
  2. Then write your answers to the following questions:

Why is this important to you?
How does doing it make you feel?
What would change in your life if you did this consistently?

Step 3: Strategy (the when, where, and how)

Now let’s create our plan! Creating a plan and setting up systems will make it so much more likely to do the thing consistently, with ease and as little mama guilt as possible.

  1. One that same piece of paper, below your Why answers, write out when, where, and how. Get clear, and specific! (If you want more guidance on this, I highly recommend the book, Atomic Habits.)
  2. When – Don’t just say you’re going to do something, make a plan so you can visualize doing it AND fit it into the back-to-school routine. For example, at what point in the daily/weekly routine will you do the thing? After school drop-off? Before kids wake up, after bedtime? (Reminder, you can always adjust if it ends up not working out well, but make a plan and try it out for a while.)
  3. Where – Getting clear on where you will do the thing will also make it so much easier to follow through. 

Step 4: Systems

Back-to-school can feel so chaotic and stressful, so making sure you have the support you need is crucial.

Examples of systems: getting any supplies you need, putting the thing in your calendar, make arrangements for any help with the kids you need, prepare/clean/whatever any space in your house you’ll need, write reminders to yourself, etc.

Step 5: Support

Communicate with the people you care about. Vocalize your commitment to taking care of yourself and ask for whatever encouragement or support you need. Maybe it’s accountability from a friend? Asking your partner to take on a task or take point with the kids so you can make it happen? Get clear on what you need now, don’t wait until you’re in the midst of the chaos.

Example: Meditation

What: Meditation for 1 minute a day (it may seem insignificant, but trust me, start here. Even if you think you can do more, start here).

Why: It makes me feel more peaceful, it helps me start my day with more patience, I’m a better mom when I do, etc. When I do it regularly, I notice my mornings run smoother, I have more focus and energy to begin the hard work of the day, and I snap at my kids to get ready for school less.

When: In the morning after I wake up. Sometimes my son joins me, sometimes I let him play a game on my phone, sometimes he just goes to play. But it’s all ok, it’s just one minute.

Where: In the self-care corner in my bedroom or on my yoga mat near my favorite plant. It doesn’t really matter where, but having the same consistent spot really helps habit-formation.

How: When I first started, I set a one-minute timer on my phone and just sat and breathed. At first, one minute felt like a long time. But it got easier.

System: Create my space and put any items of significance, like a candle or favorite essential oil. Find a couple of things that make you feel inspired to meditate. Let my partner know that I’m going to meditate in the morning before I start anything so they know not to bother me. I remind my kid that I’m going to breathe, and that he can join me or go play. Decide if you’re going to use an app, just set a timer, or do nothing.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you! If you’re still unsure, post a comment on what you’re working on so we can support you.


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Jenelle Woodlief is a Self-Care and Empowerment Coach, passionate about empowering you to put yourself at the top of your priority list. No stranger to the struggles of motherhood, Jenelle has healed her own traumas and managed family crises through embracing radical self-care. She figured it out the hard way and is leading a community of empowered women who empower others through her Empowered Group Coaching program. Jenelle is also a Licensed Massage Therapist in Portland, and guides clients through Bodywork Coaching to transform the body and heal from pain. You can follow her on her website, Instagram @jenelle.woodlief, or join her Facebook community, Self-Care Revolution for Empowered Women.


  1. WOW!! You have covered everything that could possibly come up when getting ready for the school year!! Totally love all the great ideas!
    Thanks for all your foresight!

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