Conversations To Set Your Family up for Success This School Year
Whether you’re ready to admit it or not, the beginning of the school year is around the corner (or here, for some of you!). As this time approaches, it’s easy to sketch out your children’s schedules and neglect your own or set aside your dreams for the whole family. As you and your little ones stock up on supplies and prepare for the start of the school year, make it a priority to plan time with your spouse, first, and kids, second, to answer three intentional questions. By answering these questions honestly, you’ll keep your “children’s schedules” and the “school schedule” from always being in the driver’s seat, setting the entire family up for success.
1. What do we want for our family this year at home and school?
Be intentional and proactive in the choices you make for your marriage and children. For example, if you’re craving alone time with your spouse this year, designate a weekend or two for a marriage getaway. Attend a WinShape Marriage Retreat, or explore a new city that’s on your bucket list. It’s healthy for kids to see their parents prioritizing their relationship and putting one another first. Another desire you may have for your family is to prioritize intentional family time. To achieve this, you could limit the number of activities your little ones partake in individually, so you can spend more time together as a family unit.
2. What are some healthy rhythms and boundaries we can create for ourselves and our 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 them to do the same. And, we’ve all experienced a time, or two, when exhaustion rears its ugly head in our households. Though it may take a consistent effort, it’s important to teach your kids how to live within the limits of their time and emotional bandwidth. Creating these kinds of boundaries and sticking with them is hard (it’s hard for us, too) because it’s counterintuitive to culture. However, God created in you a desire for deep connection with others and a need for rest, and you can’t fulfill either of these without enlisting healthy boundaries. You honor Him when you do so.
3. What are some responsibilities that will help our children grown and learn valuable life skills outside of the classroom?
Each day, your children learn valuable lessons in school, and as a result, they’re able to graduate to a new grade each year. In the same way, your home can be an environment where little ones can graduate to assisting with new, age-appropriate household tasks. Below are a few practical suggestions.
- Share chores. A team effort is needed to keep all the wheels turning in your house—from feeding pets, to doing laundry, picking up toys, setting the table, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, and more. Everyone contributing something will help keep everything going, and even the youngest family member plays an important role. Use this opportunity to talk about the difference it makes when everyone works together to accomplish goals.
- Cook together. Once again, teamwork makes the dream work when deciding a menu, buying necessary ingredients, and prepping and preparing a meal. Teach your kids about the steps that must be taken to cook a meal. Then, sit down, and eat together—celebrate what your team accomplished. Eating together is a wonderful way to connect with your entire family, not to mention, it’s one of the best protective factors you can put in place to reduce the chances of your children engaging in risky behavior.
- Volunteer. Getting involved in your community as an entire family teaches your little ones profound lessons. They’ll learn the value of contributing to their community, the beauty of other people they may not have encountered before, and the power of sharing with and serving others.
“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” —Hebrews 13:16
The three questions above are great to ask your spouse and children as you enter a new school year, but truly, they’re great to consider any time. As you strive to lead your family forward in a healthy direction, take a few moments to ponder your family’s desires, healthy rhythms and boundaries for your day-to-day lives, and responsibilities that will nurture your children’s growth. Making positive changes in these areas will not only set you up for success this school year, but they’re powerful enough to set your family up for success in life.