As per usual, summer goes by in a flash, and here we are just getting our feet wet again with alarm clocks, packed lunches and homework. A new school year can mean a lot of changes. New grade, new friends, new activities, new teacher — maybe a new school or a new job.
I am in a bigger transition this year as my youngest heads off to kindergarten. As I write this, it hasn’t happened yet so be sure to ask me how I am if you see me. I could very well be locked in my bathroom bawling.
Both children in school lends to a shift in my schedule, allowing me options to fill my days with various opportunities, be it work, ministry, volunteering or hot tubbing. Whatever it be, I am excited about God’s plan and the new adventure that is kicking off.
That being said, I have learned that with any transition, we must tread lightly and keep a close eye on how our family is adapting. Even a small change can make a huge impact on the family. I have become a student in how our family functions best — studying transitions, moods, schedules, and priorities.
Here are some things I have learned to look out for in a new season, and I would encourage you to observe these things with your own family. Making adjustments in the beginning is far easier than dealing with all the mess and stress which could result down the road. Put your family first and you will see the fruit of it.
1. Priorities — Fall (or any season if you’re a busy bee) can be a sponge, sucking your family of all its free time. Remember, as a parent, you have the power to say “no” to schedule-fillers. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. Choose wisely and establish your priorities as a family. My first alert that we have too much on the schedule is when we haven’t sat down as a family for dinner in awhile — a priority in our family. Church and life groups are also a priority for us, so if a new schedule begins taking precedence on these things, it is time to readjust.
2. Moods — Watching for a change in emotions, tempers, energy in yourself, kids, or spouse can be a major indicator something isn’t functioning well. If children are really tired and grumpy, I’d look to take things off their schedule. Same goes for parents — if you’re stretched thin, your patience and attitude will also be. Make sure to sit down, point out observations in mood change, and get to the bottom of what is causing it. Then take action to change things.
3. Forgetfulness — This is my red light that I have too much on my plate. I begin forgetting simple, everyday things. Then I get stressed (see No. 2). It’s time to let go of something. Don’t ever be ashamed to quit, or tell your kids they can’t quit, if it is turning out to impact them or the family negatively.
4. Quality time — Remember, time as a family is the best time. If you or your children are spending less family time and more time with those outside the family, whether it be friends, sports, or work, this can be problematic. It isn’t “when” you have time — you have to make time. We call this “forced family fun,” as sometimes one, or all of us, are forcing ourselves to turn off electronics, take things off the schedule and just be together.
So, embrace the new season and whatever changes it brings, but also be watchful and intentional of the impact. Happy back to school!
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family,” — Mother Teresa