If you count all three of our kids, preschool-high school, I have done the back to school routine 40 times over a span of 21 years. We’ve chartered public schools, home school and international schools. This seasoned, back to school doing mom has a few tips under her belt.
**Be sure to check out the link up for this Friday Five, spearheaded by Mrs. Disciple, by clicking on the blue frog at the bottom of the post. You will find a variety of tips from a variety of perspectives. That gets me all kinds of excited!
I am in a season where I have more time. Young, busy moms, don’t turn green, just know there’s hope. But since I know how busy some of you are I am going to keep this in bullet point form. If you don’t have time to read the commentary from each point, just land on the parts that jump out at you and come back to the rest if you ever have time. There’s grace here, plus I won’t know anyway. 🙂 I now that between the lunch box packing, school supply gathering, first day picture taking and
tree killing form signing, bullet points are all your brain can handle right now.
1. SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
This tip will be one you’ll use in all situations and even when they’re 25 but for the purpose of back to school this is one of my favorites. I know this is probably not everyone’s priority but it has been one of mine since our kid’s early school days. They take (or at least I give them, which is another story for another day) daily supplements based on their needs and age. That was a simple chewable multi vitamin in the early days and is now fish oil and lemon balm for our 16 yr old today. I put a high value on making them a good breakfast, packing a healthy lunch and doing something fun and yummy for an after school snack. I’m not saying this has to be chef quality gourmet stuff. You can do healthy, fast and easy! That was a warm chocolate chip cookie and milk as our oldest daughter reminded me and it looks more like a Chick Fil A run these days. I actually love the CFA run because it gives me time with my daughter for her to tell me about her day and decompress. With my last one in the 11th grade, I’m well aware of how little time I have left with her so I steal every single moment I can.
Setting them up for success with good nutrition is one of my best tips for you but make sure everything you do for them from now until forever sets them up for success.
2. DON’T PROTECT THEM FROM EVERYTHING
I have a zillion stories to back this tip up but I’ll stick with this one. When our son, Jakeb, was in the 3rd grade, we had just moved to a new city. We had been homeschooling the year before and this year put him in public school. He had a great teacher, Mrs. Ross, but she was bound and determined to sit him beside a problem student. Jakeb would come home most every day almost in tears because this boy was so hard to sit next to and he was afraid he was going to end up in trouble too. I had so many conversations with Mrs. Ross about this situation. She would move the problem boy and then a few days or maybe a week later, Jakeb would come home and tell me that she had sat him next to him again. We were at a loss.
I prayed and asked God for some parental wisdom. He delivered.
I sat down with Jakeb and told him that maybe Mrs. Ross knew something about him that we hadn’t realized yet. Maybe she knew that Jakeb was the one that would show him Jesus. That Jakeb was the only one in the class strong enough and loving enough to handle sitting by him. . I told Jakeb that God knew that He could handle this and that maybe the lesson was for him and had nothing to do with the troubled boy. We discussed that there was no telling what this boy was having to deal with at home. That maybe my son was the only kind person in this trouble boy’s world. Maybe it was actually an honor to get to sit by him rather than a burden or punishment.
Jakeb and I prayed about this often throughout that school year. I don’t have an amazing story to tell you in this particular situation, they didn’t become buddies or anything, but I will tell you that our son is now committed to mission work and is amazing at dealing with hard situations and those who seem unlovable to others in his community and around the globe. What if I had demanded that Mrs. Ross keep moving him or what if I moved him to another class completely? What if I demanded protection for my boy? What if I forced my mama’s heart to get what it wanted for my boy and didn’t allow God’s heart to intervene for HIS boy? What if the hard stuff our kids have to go through make them incredible, godly, useable and loving adults?
Of course, we must protect our kids from some things. Don’t hear me say that. I just don’t think we need to protect them from everything. It is our job as parents to teach them to live life in hard places. Because they will go out into hard places on their own one day. I want mine to have the proper tools.
3. MAKE YOUR HOME A SAFE PLACE TO COME HOME TO
I’m going to take you back to my school days on this one. I am, by nature, an introvert. I didn’t know that back in the day but it played into be being very quiet and insecure. I remember riding home on the school bus, having to sit in the back with all the thugs because I had to go by the band hall and grab my instrument before heading to the bus, so I stared out the window and found my happy place while the mean kids taunted me. The bus opened the doors at the end of my street. I couldn’t get off fast enough. Tears would inevitably flow as I walked towards our house. And this was high school, folks. My happy place was home. I knew that if I could just make it until the bus doors opened, I would be ok. I would come home and home would be safe. I don’t remember if mom had warm cookies and milk, she probably did though, but I do remember knowing that I would be safe once I walked through our front door. Our front door has various styles and house numbers on it, we moved a few times, but home was always inside.
4. PRAY THROUGH THEIR DAY
Know their daily schedule. Make a copy of it and put it on your fridge or screen shot it and put it on your phone Pray specifically for their teachers and students in their classes. Pray for recess to be fun and for there to be no injuries. Pray for their character. Set alarms on your smart phone to pray during classes that they struggle in. There have been so many times throughout their school days that I felt so helpless in protecting and caring for my children. The act of letting go is one I struggle with. Realizing that I get to hold their hand but God holds their heart gives me great peace. God is much better at taking care of his creation than I am. I must let him.
5. DO WHAT YOU DO FOR YOUR CHILD
Do what you do for your child and not for you. By this, I mean don’t live out the childhood you wished you had through your child. Or don’t live out the childhood you did have through your child. They are not you. We often push off our past insecurities or issues from our school days on our kids. We want them to have what we had or we want them to avoid some of the things we went through. Their journey is not the same as ours was. Their world is not the same as ours was.
Along these lines, in volunteering or serving or providing goodies and such, do what your child will appreciate. Do what will bring your child joy. And DON’T do what they could care less about you doing. Do not worry one bit about what anyone else thinks. You could kill yourself making the prettiest display of cupcakes from scratch but they might rather have a plate of pb&j’s or carrots and ranch dip – or they may not care AT ALL if you take anything. This being said, if you LOVE making the prettiest display of cupcakes from scratch and your child loves that too, then by all means, DO IT! Seriously, focus on making memories with your child, not for you or for the teacher or for another parent.
I could go on and on but, given the title, five is the limit. What are some of your best back to school tips? Please leave a comment and share.
For more back to school posts, check these out:
Send Your Kids Packing… With a Miracle in Their Lunchbox
I Can’t Keep You