As one of my friends on facebook posted, “Where has the summer gone?” Yup, the new school year is upon us. And, if you are like me and most parents, this is a super stressful time for the whole family. Supplies to buy, schedules to arrange, clothes to try on, orientations to attend, doctors appointments to schedule, and then to top it off, there is a ton of “change” to manage. “Will I make new friends?” “Wow, I am not sure I am ready for them to be growing up, and so fast” “Mom, I need to have _________, if I don’t I will be a nerd, and I just might hate your guts forever”
You know the routine, and could surely fill in your own back-to-school experiences. To be sure, it’s not easy reality to manage, anxiety levels are high, stress is growing, and the reality of change is not an easy pill to swallow. So, how can we all manage this time of the year in ways that are sync with God?
Here are a few tips on riding the back-to-school wave with Grace.
1) Stay cool.
And by that I mean, don’t let this time of the year erode your sense of peace. In times of stress, it’s easy to get into a tailspin of short tempers, stress, and anxiety, often majoring in the minors, and minoring in the majors. Try to keep you perspective and rest in the reality that God is at work and will surely guide and provide your way through this stressful time. Your attitude towards “back-to-school” will set the temperature in your family for how everyone else handles it. If you are calm, cool, and collected, chances are that will help minimize the overall stress level for the rest of the family. Remember, you are already perfect in Christ, you don’t have to perform perfectly nor does everything have to come together perfectly. Don’t miss the forest from the trees. Enjoy this time, even the stress of it, one day, you will be wishing you could have these days back again.
2) Keep communication lines open and active.
“Back-to-school” is an important time to go above the call of duty to make sure everyone is talking, expressing, and communicating feelings and needs. Making sure to initiate conversations among family members will be critical. Repeatedly asking questions like, “So, how are you feeling about all this?” “Hey, is there anything we are forgetting?” “So, how are you handling things?” will be valuable tools before, during, and after the “back-to-school” whirlwind. So many negative situations can be prevented or diffused from becoming a problem if communication lines are open and active.
3) Speak out your faith for the new school year.
In addition to praying together, I think it’s incredibly valuable to speak out statements of faith over the “back-to-school” experience. When you and your family speak and hear declarations of faith, it releases God to work and uplifts everyone who hears them. Statements like, “I believe this new year is going to be full of blessings and wonderful surprises from God” “Lord, I thank you that you have gifted my children with great minds that will excel in learning this year.”Jesus, I thank you in advance for working all things out for our good and your glory, covering my children with your protection and purposes” will have a supernatural effect on the “back-to-school” atmosphere of your family. Asking your children, “What are you believing God for this new year in school?” is a great way to get things started.
4) Don’t get over-scheduled
There is a great temptation among American families to be over-scheduled with activities. And this is the time of the year when that destructive ball gets set into motion. Your value and worth as a parent and family is not in how many activities you are doing each week. You can have an after school event or activity scheduled for every day of the week for your children and completely miss out on the true essence and experience of family at the same time. One of the worst mistakes we can make as parents is to raise performance-driven children who base their identities on the amount and level of their extra-curricular accomplishments. Soccer, ballet, dance, football etc. are all great things for our children, as long as they are managed well. Nothing can be more important than to teach our children how to prioritize their lives, placing faith, family, play, rest, and school at the top of the list. Everyone has a plan for your children’s lives. Coaches, programs, sports, etc. are all craving the unrestrained and unrestricted time and commitment of your children. And trust me, they will take it all if you let them. The question is, “Are you going to teach your children when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to all the things soliciting their time, in ways that keep the main things in life the main thing?”
So, what would you add to this list?