Backpacks, schoolbooks, iPads, lunches, tennis shoes, gym clothes, fees for sports and other extracurricular activities, field trips, shopping for school clothes, “Who’s my teacher going to be this year?” and the list goes on and on! Gone are the “relaxing” days of summer. No more last-minute family fun days to the lake or pool, fishing, swimming, or going on vacations. The school year is upon us and can bring excitement or anxiety into our homes.
The school year brings a different routine to our days, which can be a very good thing. For some, having a place for your kids to go while you need to be at work and not having to pay child care costs is a huge help! For others, they don’t like being set to the school schedule and would rather have the freedom of doing last minute activities.
Some of us have children who LOVE school! They make it easy for us because they get up right away, get dressed, have their things ready to go and run out the door when the time comes. They might even have their clothes laid out the night before! Yes, this really does happen in some homes! But eventually that excitement wears off even for these kids. They tell you late at night as you tuck them into bed that they don’t have any clean clothes for gym in the morning. They forgot to plug in their iPad and aren’t even sure exactly where they put it. The question is, do we, as loving parents, get the laundry going so they don’t have to “stress” about it? Do we go on the hunt for the iPad so we can be sure that it gets plugged in? What about when you get that text or phone call from school that they forgot something? Do you go to the rescue and bring to them whatever it is that they forgot? Is that even an option with your schedule? Can anyone relate to this?
Then there are kids who do NOT enjoy school, it brings about a great sense of anxiety and fear. They literally cling to you and cry when it is time to go. They might even act out in fear and anger that you are making them go. They accuse you of not loving them because if you did, you would not make them go to school! You have meetings with the school counselor to help decide what the best course of action is to help your child with this transition. Then of course there is the homework. For a child who does not like school and then needs to come home and do more???? You try reward charts. Maybe you restrict TV and video games. You try to sit with them and help them through their schoolwork which has now turned into homework for you as well. Can you relate?
Perhaps your children do not leave the house for school. You wake each morning, get dressed, have breakfast and hit the books! You work through subject after subject with your children, helping them to learn everything they will need to know. You are the Science teacher, Math teacher, English teacher, Art teacher, Music teacher, Gym teacher, cook, lunch lady and janitor just to name a few! It is all YOU! You have the joy of watching them complete every milestone, accomplish every goal, or start over and try again when they don’t quite reach the outcome they were hoping to. Watching the looks on the faces of your favorite little people as they finally understand a concept they have been struggling with for so long is priceless! The field trips you get to take them on are so much fun when it is just you and your littles. You are able to protect them from the ways of the world and bullies. You can help them to process things as they see them happen in the world around them because you are always there. Then of course you have to make sure you have all of the supplies you are going to need for tomorrow’s art project and science lab. Did you do your own homework and prep yourself for tomorrow’s lessons? You may have to relearn concepts and subjects yourself; it has been a few years since you learned some of this stuff. Is tomorrow a Co-op day? Do you need to teach a class and are you prepared? Do you have the necessary supplies? If your children do not do well in a subject there will be no meeting with the teacher necessary, it is all YOU! Your own children will not hesitate to cry and complain if they don’t like something. How are you going to react? You might question if you are teaching your children well enough or wonder at times if maybe you are sheltering them too much? Can you relate?
These are just some of the pictures of what school looks like in our homes. Yours might be the same in some elements and different in others. Whatever your first day of school and those following is like, remember one thing. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are many of us doing the same thing, dealing with the same issues or joys that are happening.
The most important thing that we can do is take a step back and look at how we are going to respond. How we respond sends a message to our children and those around us. How do we handle our anxiety, frustrations, anger and rushed mornings? Do we respond in a way that shows our children that they are important to us and we are here to help them get through the rough times? Do we model them a righteous way of living in God’s way? Acting out of love, patience, grace and mercy? How can we respond in this way when we too are feeling anxious, frustrated and getting upset because we should have been on our way to work by now?
The most important thing you can do for your children and those around you is take time for yourself. Spend time in God’s word each and every morning and again at night before going to sleep. You can take 5 minutes or 50 minutes. Every small moment spent with God can change how you view your struggles. It will help you take on what the world is throwing your way.
Do devotionals with your kids. Family devotionals bring about great conversations! Your kids will start to open up to you and talk to you about things they might not have otherwise mentioned when they see that they have 100% of your attention and you are helping them know God’s love and God’s way of living. It will help them feel more safe and secure knowing that you love them enough to take time out with them in a meaningful, relaxed environment away from the hustle and things that the world is throwing at them.
Don’t miss these moments you have with your children. Each moment of excitement, eager anticipation, anxiety, frustrations, late night laundry, homework, goals being made and accomplished and even those that are missed are times that we have been given with our children to help mold them into God loving beings that can go on to Love, Live and Serve like Jesus.
The time we spend with them matters. The way we react to different situations matters. The time that we spend with God so we can be full of His love and return that love to others, matters. The time we have with our children in our homes is so small compared to the time they spend out in the world on their own.
An insightful read is a book called Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy. In this book they point out to us that from the time our children are born until they turn 18 we have less than 1000 weeks with them in our homes.
We won’t always react to each moment in a way that we are proud of and that is ok. The important thing is that we are willing to admit it. When our children see that we too are human and need a Savior in our lives, they will be more willing to accept the Savior into theirs.
As believers in Christ, we are not promised an easy life, but we are promised that God will walk through every struggle or triumph we face. In the opening verses of John chapter 16, Jesus is talking with the disciples and preparing them for the time that is coming when He will no longer be with them; but back in the presence of the Father. Jesus tells of an advocate that He will send to them; and we know this advocate and comforter is the Holy Spirit. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We have the certainty that God is always there to walk us through this world’s troubles; and that He has won.
We too have help from the advocate, the Holy Spirit. When we believe Jesus is our Savior and ask God to be in us, giving up control and trusting in Him, we are given the Holy Spirit to help guide us. We can’t do this alone, but we also don’t need to!
We are praying that during this school year, you will have opportunities to point your kids and others to Christ in times of anxiety and excitement. Our prayer for your family this school year is, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
If you would like a copy of Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy’s book Don’t Miss It we have some available for a suggested donation of $10. If you would like to get a book but are not able to spend $10 that is ok! You can order a book online at friendshipmn.org/book.