I love summer. I love the warm weather, the long days, the laid-back schedule, and the permission I feel to eat lots of ice cream to “cool off."
But as much as I love summer, I really love getting back to school and back into a routine. Maybe it’s because I went to school to become a teacher and taught full-time for seven years before becoming a mom, but there’s something really exciting about getting organized and ready for a new school year . . .
And also overwhelming!
It was one thing when I was preparing my own classroom for students to enter, and it has become another to prepare my own kids to go to their classrooms.
There are a lot of things that I feel like I need to do and remember, but I have to realize that I don't need to do them all.
Try these helpful ideas as you get ready for the school year.
1. Buy one new outfit.
Who doesn’t love back-to-school clothes shopping? There’s something so exciting as a kid getting new clothes to wear for school. Here’s the thing though – you buy new jeans and sweatshirts and long-sleeved shirts and shoes and then it ends up being 87 and humid the first three weeks of school. Go ahead and buy one new outfit because everyone has fun wearing something new on the first day. Then, just slowly add pieces to the wardrobe as your kids need. Maybe you'll find that the school is warmer than expected and you won’t actually need three sweatshirts because your kids will want to wear t-shirts all the time.
2. Plan a night to rest.
Years ago, after our third baby was born, our family started doing pizza and movie night every Friday. With three little kids at home, we needed our Friday nights to be simple and relaxing. As the kids have gotten older, it has now become a tradition that we all love and look forward to. I’ll be honest though, it can be hard to protect that night as family night. We have to work hard to say no to things in order to have a relaxing night at home (sometimes we do move it to Saturday night if something comes up that we need to attend on a Friday). We’ve found this to be so important now because, at the end of a school week, our kids are tired. They need time to rest and relax.
3. Give your kids responsibility.
Mornings can be stressful. I confess, that as a mom, I tend to want to do everything so that it gets done “correctly.” But all this does is stress me out and, in the end, teach my kids zero responsibility. In the morning, my kids can make their beds. They can also pack their backpacks and fill their own water bottles and pack themselves a snack. Eventually, my kids will move out of our house. I want them to be self-sufficient when that day comes. The first few weeks of this can be a little stressful, but by the time October rolls around, and we have a routine established where my kids know their tasks to accomplish in the morning, it’s all worth it.
4. Set alarms.
When my oldest daughter started school, I remember constantly checking the time to see how much time was left for her to get ready and get to the bus stop. Then I remembered that I have this device called an iPhone and I can set alarms. So, that’s what I do. During the school year, I have an alarm that goes off to remind me that we need to eat breakfast and get dressed at certain times. I have an alarm that goes off when it’s time for my kids to begin packing their things for school, and an alarm tells us when to start getting ready for the bus. I even have an alarm that goes off five minutes before my kids get home in the afternoon. I’ve titled that alarm “Jazz Up,” because when all the papers, lunchboxes, and water bottles come home, I’ve got to get some extra energy to be ready for it all.
5. Don’t forget to smile.
Amidst all the busyness and newness that comes with school beginning, don’t forget to smile and enjoy what is around you. Enjoy and treasure your children – your gifts from the Lord. I know there can be days that are hard, and sometimes kids have a lot of emotions and not a lot of words (don’t we all feel that way at times?). But take a deep breath and thank God for what he has given you.
Just enjoy the moments.
Enjoy the first few weeks of school – even when it feels like a whirlwind. And give yourself grace too, because let’s be honest, you will forget something – whether it’s to pack a snack or a lunch, to sign a form and return it to school, to help your child with a writing project, or to charge an iPad (all real-life experiences from yours truly). We’ve all been there, and no one is waiting to judge you. We’re all just waiting to laugh with you about it, give you a hug and tell you about the time we did exactly the same.