Ah, back-to-school season. That magical time of new backpacks, adorable “first-day” pictures, and the crushing mental load of keeping up with homework, field trips, and school supply lists. Especially after the lazy days of summer, the rush of activity surrounding the back-to-school season can feel overwhelming, and many mothers cite it as one of the most exhausting times of the year.
And yet, it’s also a beautiful, poignant season. Our kids are a year older and that much taller than in last year’s pictures. There are happy reunions with friends, both our kids and our own. There is the excitement of a new year and all the ways our children will learn and grow. But still, it’s hard to savor these things when we’re busy checking things off our lists and (barely) keeping our heads above water.
When life gets a little crazy, it can be nice to take a deep breath and give ourselves a reminder that not only are we doing the best we can, but our best is pretty great. Using daily affirmations can be the mental reset we need to feel more grounded and ready to tackle the tasks of the day ahead.
If you’re looking to get into or continue the practice, here a few of our favorite affirmations to help you pause, take a breath, and feel your best during back-to-school season. Pick a few of these that stand out to you, say them out loud to yourself each morning, and see how to positivity and personal encouragement can change your days. And, if you’re looking for back-to-school affirmations for kids, we have those too—click here!
Back-to-School Affirmations for Moms
1. My children’s successes and failures are not my own.
We love our kids, and we want to do everything we can to help them succeed. And yet, it’s not all up to us. In this era of intensive parenting, it’s easy to forget where our kids end and we begin. We tend to want to make their wins our wins and their challenges our challenges, but the most recent ‘A’ on their spelling test doesn’t belong to us, just as getting cut from the soccer team isn’t our letdown. We can support our kids through their accomplishments and challenges without using them as a litmus test for our success as a parent.
2. I am in control of how I respond to others.
When life takes a busy turn, it’s easier than ever to feel frustrated when things don’t go our way. Whether we’re late for school pick up and traffic is backed up, or we forgot that permission slip again, times like this make it easy to not be our best. For our kids and for ourselves, it’s important for us to stay calm even in times of anxiety. A balanced nervous system is not something to be taken for granted. This affirmation will serve as a reminder that even though we can’t control, say, the speed of traffic, we are in control of how we handle our emotions. Allowing our kids to watch us practice emotional regulation is a great way to help them gain the skill as well.
3. I trust myself.
We all learned quickly when starting to raise kids (and even before) that there are going to be difficult choices to make. From simple things like suggesting your little one bring a raincoat to school today, to big things like giving them friendship advice, we’re making decisions all the time. In a world with so much outside noise—other parents, social media, society at large—it can be hard to differentiate between what we believe is best and what we think we should be doing. We can use this affirmation to tap into our intuition and remind ourselves that we’re capable of making decisions for ourselves and our kids.
4. I am strong and capable.
I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life where if someone had said these words to me, it would have had to power to bring me to tears. When we’re trying to perfectly juggle everything on our to-do list, it can quickly become overwhelming and leave us feeling discouraged. The good news is that we don’t need anyone else to remind us that we’re capable of doing difficult things—even though that can be nice, too! We can remind ourselves every day of the things we’ve already accomplished and remember there’s nothing too big for us to handle.
5. I deserve help.
Packing lunches. Scheduling a sitter. Checking homework. Washing sports uniforms. Coordinating carpool. The list quickly becomes unmanageable. And yet, asking for help sometimes seems like more trouble than it’s worth. After all, explaining to our partner what goes in the lunch box often takes longer than just making the lunch. On the flip side, however, if you don’t take the time to ask for help and explain what you need, you’ll always be the one making lunch.
Eve Rodsky addresses this topic in her book, Fair Play, which contains concrete suggestions for how to triage and rebalance the often invisible work that mothers do. Because not only do we need the help, we deserve it.
6. I’m doing enough.
As the old saying goes, perfect is the enemy of good. Yes, there will always be the mom who brings personalized Halloween cookies for the whole class or shows up to back-to-school night with a bullet-point list of questions organized by topic. Good for her. We all need to prioritize, though, and usually, something has to give.
It’s OK to feed your kids chicken nuggets three nights in a row or toss a random scarf on their heads on the way out the door for “Dress Like a Pirate Day.” Good enough is underrated. Good enough can preserve your sanity and ensure you have the energy for the parts of your life that don’t revolve around school projects or “Silly Sock Day.”
7. I am unique and creative.
When we become moms, it can be so easy to let it become our entire identity. While one of our biggest priorities these days is to raise our little ones to the best of our abilities, it’s important to remember what makes us individually unique. Though we may not always have the time to tap into our favorite hobbies or do all of the things that we loved before becoming moms, giving ourselves a little reminder that we are unique and special as individuals might be just what we need to hear.
8. I am loved.
Often times when we’re rushing out the door or onto the next event, we quickly toss out an ‘I love you’ to our partners and kids. And don’t get me wrong, anytime this sentiment is shared is a good thing. But when our minds are focusing on other tasks at hand, it can be tough for anyone to fully internalize what’s being said. Let’s use this phrase as an opportunity to feel those ‘I love you’ moments we share with those around us, and perhaps as a reminder to share even more intentional sentiments with those who mean the most to us.
9. My needs and wants are important.
It can be so easy to focus 100% on our kid’s or partner’s needs without allowing the space needed to care for ourselves—especially amidst those extra busy times like getting back into a school routine. But our needs and wants deserve to be prioritized as much as anyone else in the family.
10. I am allowed to have a bad day.
In a society as fast-paced as ours, it’s easy to feel like we’re never doing enough. When the discouragement gets really overwhelming, we can easily find ourselves in a bad day. When this happens, I like to remind myself that bad days happen for a reason. We need to know what a difficult day is like in order to appreciate the ones that are actually really good. This affirmation is also our cue to give ourselves some grace and remember that a bad day does not equal a bad life.
11. I deserve rest.
During the airplane safety demonstration, they always instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping those around you. The same goes for parenting. You are of no use to your family if you’re running on fumes. You can’t help your kids make good decisions, respond to them with patience and empathy, or model healthy self-care if you’re a sleep-deprived zombie on a regular basis.
You’re not obligated to be at every school function, orchestra concert, or soccer game. Maybe you and your partner divide and conquer. Maybe you skip something altogether. Either way, once in a while we all need to pause and refuel before jumping back into the marathon.
12. I am grateful.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed, I find it really difficult to appreciate the small things among all the hustle and bustle of a busy season. Every now and then, we need to be reminded of all of the blessings we have—but that’s not to say we should minimize our struggles, either. Rather, we can intentionally spend time being thankful for the small things and big things alike. Speaking this appreciation will make it easier and easier to internalize it and see the good in every day.
13. I can choose to be happy.
In that same realm is this affirmation that reminds us we alone are in control of our happiness. When we realize that happiness is a choice that is always in our control, we take the power away from outside factors. This is not to say that we will be happy 100% of the time—instead, we can use this as a cue to find the good in the bad, stressful, and mundane.
14. I am the best mom for my children.
Playing the comparison game can easily lead us down a dark rabbit hole. We start to see moms who can “do it all” (which, spoiler alert, no one can). Then we’re lead to believe that everyone else is doing a better job than we are. That’s where the second-guessing starts rolling in. Am I doing enough? Why can’t motherhood be as effortless for me as it is for her? Would my kids be better off with a different mom? The answer to the last one is an absolute no. There’s no one out there who would do a better job at raising our kids than us. Every now and then, hearing a reminder like that can be the words of encouragement we need.
15. I will find joy and laughter in today.
When we get into ‘get it done’ mode, it can be tough to enjoy the process. We can give ourselves a nudge with this affirmation that there is joy everywhere. Whether it’s our kids telling a story over breakfast, or cracking a joke on the way to school, when we intentionally look for it, we can always find a reason to smile. Plus, we’ll never regret spending time laughing with our kiddos.
16. I am proud of what my body can do.
A hand to hold, a lap to snuggle in, arms to carry all the things—every mom’s body does incredible things every day. It’s important to take an occasional pause to remind ourselves that our body deserves our gratitude and respect for all the amazing things it can do.
17. I am a positive role model to my kids.
We have the opportunity to show their kids what a positive role model looks like. When we do our best, we encourage our kids to do their best. Each and every day, we have opportunities to give our kids someone to look up to. We can do so in the way we work, rest, and play.
18. I will talk to myself like I would a friend.
When we really think about it, the way we talk to our friends is often with much more compassion and kindness than we give ourselves. Imagine if we give ourselves the same kind of praise and encouragement we give to others. We would likely have a lot more motivation to tackle challenging tasks, and a better ability to show up as our best selves. Let’s take the time to remember to speak to ourselves with the same respect and adoration we give others.
19. Each day, I am learning.
Motherhood, and life in general, is a learning process. And how do we know when we’re growing? By taking the lessons life gave to us yesterday and bettering our tomorrow for ourselves and our kids. This also serves as a great reminder to not fixate on past mistakes, but to learn from them.
20. I’m a good mom.
Chances are if you’re worrying about whether you’re a good mom, you already are. It’s easy to get caught up in criticizing our shortcomings instead of focusing on all the ways we love and care for our families—especially when everyone around us (i.e., everyone on social media) seems to be super-momming so effortlessly. And while we know in our brains that social media is curated to show the best of people, it’s sometimes still hard to shake the feeling that in comparison, we’re falling short. But the bar is only as high as we choose to set it, and our failures are only as important as the energy we choose to give them.