Do Your Homework –
Before the School Year
Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, the beginning of the school year is right around the corner. It’s easy to sketch out our kids’ schedules believing our schedules aren’t our own. The truth is, our kids’ extracurricular activities don’t own us, even though it might feel like it. Actually getting ahead of the game (no pun intended) and thinking about a plan for your family as a whole could make all the difference in having what you really want for your entire family.
In the next few weeks, as you are buying fresh No. 2 pencils and notebooks to prep for back to school, take some time with your spouse first and then your children to answer a few intentional questions, set important family boundaries and create meaningful goals that work for you as you head into this new academic year.
3 Steps to Help You Prepare
These 3 steps will keep the school schedule from steamrolling you and your family:
1. Ask yourselves, “What do we want for our family this year at school and at home?”
Be intentional and proactive in the choices you make for your marriage and for your children. You might choose to limit the number of activities your children take part in so you can prioritize time together as a family. Maybe you set aside a weekend or two throughout the year for a marriage getaway. It’s a great and healthy thing for your children to see you putting your relationship with your spouse first. Your healthy relationship helps them know their home is secure and not everything revolves around the kids.
2. Create healthy life rhythms and boundaries for your children.
The model you set in your home will help establish the way your children spend their time, even into adulthood. If you allow your schedule to give you the run around without making space for downtime, you’ll teach your children to do the same. And, we’ve probably all experienced that time when exhaustion rears its ugly head in the household.
Though it may take a consistent and concerted effort, it’s important to teach your kids how to live within your means, financially yes, but also within the limits of your time and emotional bandwidth. Creating these kinds of boundaries and sticking with them is hard for all of us because it’s so counter to the way our culture works. But, God made us to need deep connection with one another along with times of rest. We honor Him, meet our own needs and set healthy patterns when we acknowledge these limitations. Countless times in Scripture it is noted that Jesus went away from the people to rest.
3. Choose activities and responsibilities that will help your children grow and learn valuable problem-solving skills.
As your children graduate to a new grade in school, it’s also an opportunity for them to “graduate” to new helpful household tasks with age-appropriate responsibilities. Here are a few practical suggestions:
- Share chores: Since you aren’t running a hotel, it takes everybody contributing something to keep everything going. Feeding the dog, picking up clothes, making beds, clearing the table, putting dishes in the dishwasher, vacuuming, packing lunches and folding laundry, even the youngest member of your family can play an important role, which also gives them a sense of belonging. Talk about the difference it makes when everybody works together to get it all done.
- Cook together: Deciding on a menu, buying all the ingredients, prepping ahead of time and then actually preparing the meal allows for lots of teamwork — which is a super good thing for children to learn. Sitting down and eating the meal together can be a celebration of what you just accomplished. And, eating together is one of the best protective factors you can put in place to reduce the chances of your children engaging in risky behavior.
- Volunteer: Heading out as a family to give back to others teaches your child many lessons, not the least of which is the value of contributing to their community and exposing them to worlds they may not realize exist.
When it comes to family, every member of your tribe brings something unique to the team. Here’s what’s really awesome: your goal is to lead your family in a healthy direction, to get your family to spend time together — to grow individually and as a whole — and to work together as a team. In the process of doing that, you are teaching your children life skills that will work for them forever. That is a good and powerful thing.
WinShape Marriage regularly offers Marriage Retreats that focus on strengthening your marriage in the midst of parenting your children. See all of our upcoming Marriage Retreats.