3 Things You Should Do Right Now as Your Kids Head Back to School
I’ve seen it all over social media the past few weeks… parents who can’t WAIT to send their kids back to school (the animated gif with the orangutan doing the happy dance cracks me up!) It’s not that parents are mean. It’s not that parents hate their kids. It’s not that parents don’t want to spend time with their kids. So why are the same parents who could not WAIT for summer break to begin the same ones who cannot WAIT for school to be back in session?
One word. BUSYNESS. As each school year draws to and end, we find ourselves hanging by a thread… in survival mode… just trying to make it to the end of the year! Between school projects and final grades, PTA meetings and school bake sales, we think, “Something’s gotta give!” and that’s when we wish for summer break to be here. If I can just make it to summer break, things will slow down.
But something strange happens over summer break. Between scheduling babysitting and sleepovers and trips to the lake and vacations, we end up right back in the same place we were at the end of the school year… hanging by a thread… in survival mode… just trying to make it to the end of the summer. And you know you’ve said it, (maybe not out loud, but in your head)… I can’t wait to send my kids back to school! We look forward to the structure and routine that back-to-school brings, thinking that it is the solution to our BUSYNESS. But the problem with BUSYNESS is not the long list of things that are on our to-do list. The problem is us. Let me repeat that so it can sink in really good… the root cause of our BUSYNESS is ourselves, and not the things we have to do! If we don’t change our mindset, we will find ourselves in a perpetual “season” of BUSYNESS while our kids are young and before we know it, we will blink and our youngest child, robed with cap and gown, will be walking across a stage to receive his or her diploma.
Let’s not be so busy, that we miss the point. We must look at this phase in our children’s lives and set priorities for developing our kids emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Here are 3 things you should do right now as your kids head back to school to accomplish these things:
EAT TOGETHER AS A FAMILY. Between sports schedules, homework and late night meetings, this can be difficult to accomplish! But something happens when we all get around the dinner table together. As a mom, I have the opportunity to glean into my child’s day as we share a meal. I may discover a struggle one of them is having at school or a new interest they’ve developed. Younger siblings hear about the experiences of their older siblings and hopefully learn from their mistakes. Statistics show that kids who have family meal times are less likely to be depressed, be suicidal, use alcohol and drugs, and engage in sexual activity. In fact, kids who eat with their families feel like their parents are proud of them and get better grades in school.
If you are freaking out a little bit because you think this means you have to cook—don’t panic! The family meal can take place dining-in (not driving-thru) your favorite restaurant, or even ordering a pizza! Just be sure to turn off the devices and engage in conversation. The point is, when we sit down together as a family and have real face time, we create opportunities to invest in and support our children emotionally.
SPEND 15 MINUTES DOING SOMETHING FUN. I’m not saying homework isn’t important. And I know you have dishes to do and laundry to wash. But in 15 minutes of riding bikes, playing hopscotch or even joining your child on Mario Cart, you show your child you aren’t too BUSY for them! I know I’ve said that to my kids more times than I care to admit… I can’t right now, Mommy is busy. That stings a little bit, doesn’t it? The truth is, spending quality time with your kids now will communicate that you love them, support them, and are there for them. You create a solid relationship so as they grow into the next phase (teenagers…adults…parents) they will know you will be there for them when they really need you!
READ THE BIBLE TOGETHER. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in reality, most parents don’t even know where to begin in helping their child learn how to read the Bible. I know as a child, I was taught the books of the Bible in order and memorized scriptures in Sunday School. But when I became an adult, I had NO IDEA how to read the Bible on my own without the help of a devotional book. You’ve heard the expression: Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life. The best thing we can do for our kids is teach them to fish (i.e. read and understand the Word of God for themselves). So when they face life’s trials… a broken friendship… a temptation they can’t overcome… a tragedy or loss… they will know how to “fish” for themselves and read about the Better Life God promises us in His Word. In Better Life Kids, we have created a resource to help you S.O.A.P. with your child throughout the week, extending what they learn on Sunday morning and helping them apply it throughout their week. Try it. I promise you, THEY will grow spiritually and YOU will grow spiritually as well!
I know what you are thinking. How can I be less busy by adding these three things to my already full schedule? Simple. Prioritize. Say no to some things so you can say yes to the best things! This may mean saying no to taking up a second sport or after-school activity so you can say yes to family dinners and quality time. Or even saying no to joining the PTA so you can say yes to reading the Bible with your child at night. These other things are not inherently bad things. But filling up our schedules with BUSYNESS comes with a price. Usually our family pays it.
The truth is, there are approximately 40 weeks until summer break! That’s either 40 weeks you are going devote to your priorities, putting in deposits with your kids that will add up to a great impact in the rest of their lives! Or 40 weeks that will slip through your fingers haphazardly. You’ll blink and that time will be gone. As your kids start back to school, it’s the perfect time to BEGIN these three things. It’s not too late to start TODAY. Go get ‘em. You’ve got this! The Best is Yet to Come!