Are you ready to trade in wet swimsuits on the carpet, water balloon shrapnel on the lawn, and a constant chorus of “I’m bored”s for something new?Trade it for new school supplies, shoes and clothes, new teachers, new friends, new schedules. All the glory of the new school year with a NEW ATTITUDE!
I am ready!
Every August sends my family into a summer slump, despite our best efforts to educate, entertain and enthusiastically cart the kiddos from point A to point B. We love our kids spending time with them, but this time of year it becomes quite clear why mama bird tosses her babies out of the nest. It’s not your fault for longing for school to start, it’s all mother nature!
I knew I had reached my limit last week when I dropped off my daughter at practice and then drove my boys around looking for “Pokey stops” to avoid having to deal with them for an hour. My 10-year-old doesn’t even have a phone. I had digressed so much over the summer that I let him download the app to my phone. Don’t judge. All the complaining and fighting drove me to drastic measures! I did decide, in this moment of weakness, that things WILL be different when the kids go back to school and I spent the next evening researching ways to get my family back on track!
In order to fully embrace the opportunities Back-To-School brings, we worked with the kids to write the following mission statement:
Our mission is to become better siblings, students and members of society. We will do this by taking time to make a difference, using our talents to help others, doing our best work, and never comparing ourselves to anyone else. We will be the best “me” and make the biggest difference in all we do!
We then created a plan to make sure our mission would be possible via scheduling check points to keep us on track, accountable, and dedicated to working together! Creating this with the kids took an entire evening and the following morning! I think there was only one argument the entire time!
Our family consists of 3 very active kids, 2 working parents and 2 dogs. We had to keep this simple and flexible so that we could stick to our mission and accomplish the following goals:
Turn Off Technology
Technology is the number one reason our kids (and my husband and I) tune out the world around us. Creating a tech-free zone until after homework and dinner is done (including TV) is essential. Phones, iPad’s, iPod’s, remotes and all other tech toys and gadgets will be deposited into a basket until everything necessary is DONE!
Make Meals Memorable
Everyone knows the value of a family mealtime, but our over-scheduled lives make this a challenge. Pre-planning is the key to overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of family-time AND good nutrition. It only takes one hour of meal planning followed by a weekly shopping trip to make this happen, so we added it to our schedule. Including the kids with the planning means they plan for foods they will eat! We will utilize “meals in minutes” and “slow cooker solutions” to make this work for us.
Set Up a Study Table
I have researched “creating good study habits” and there is an overwhelming amount of info available on this subject! The two things that made the most sense for my family are:
- Create a tradition in which everybody pulls out the books after dinner at the kitchen table. After kitchen clean-up, kids work with parents nearby to help as needed. Nobody can sneak off and play Pokemon Go or check their Facebook status.
- When my husband and I have emails to check and work to do at home, we use this time to do our homework too. We will be available to help the kids and at the same time set an example of getting down to business and getting work done NOW!
Focus on Family Work & Play
This summer, with my new responsibilities at work, I have realized that I do WAY too much for my kids. Every bit of research confirms what I know. Chores build character, responsibility and stronger work ethic. It’s no more coddling, because the kiddos are fully capable. If my 9-year-old can educate me about the ins and outs of programming the TV remote and how to tweet, I’m quite sure he can put away his laundry, load the dishwasher, and do some light cleaning.
Take Time to Make a Difference
Our family is very busy, but we still want to make a difference. The kids decided to help each other with their schools’ main fundraisers this year. In recent years, our support has been lackluster. This seems to the PERFECT opportunity for our kids to participate in a charitable cause. They will be able to see first-hand how their work and contributions will benefit all the students at their school.
Each kid set a goal to raise $500 for their school. We, as parents, committed to supporting their efforts. I will do this as a volunteer in each fundraiser, a rather large commitment on my part since I have not been an active PTO/A member since my 15 year old was in elementary school. In past years I tried to volunteer when I could, but time and effort would slipped away. Volunteering early to help unload a truck or help for 2 hours at a fundraising pick-up is the perfect way for me to do my part, but not over-commit.
Back to school is filled with hopes, dreams, resolutions and promise. Unfortunately, all these good intentions may fall to the wayside as time flies by. Make this year the year you stick to the plan by laying out a mission! Post your mission along with your goals on the refrigerator or bulletin board and regularly plan and discuss progress. Be sure to acknowledge your children’s successes often and enthusiastically! It’s easy to get caught up in ourselves and the stress of life, but being a good parent means making a conscious effort to find time to teach our children and set a good example. What they see is far more important than what we say. And if you wander off the plan, remember it’s never too late to get back on track.
Make your home a peaceful place. Place your focus on getting things done and family fun. Take the time to make a difference at your school by getting involved. You are the key that will unlock to your child’s brightest future!