No matter how much it grieves me, summer is coming to a close. I can try to ignore the calendar but the days fly by like puffy clouds on a windy day. As we close the door on this relaxed season, I realize school is right around the corner. Ready or not, here it comes.
Transitioning from the lazy summer days to structured school weeks can be a jolt to everyone’s system. One of the hardest issues we face during the school time are the first and last activities of the day. No longer can the kids lazily prepare for the day and stall at bedtime. To ease this shift, we slowly impose more and more school-time expectations. For example, beginning the first week of August bedtime is moved earlier. Second, morning and bedtime routines are reinstated. The kids practice each routine with a checklist of activities in which they need to finish (i.e. make bed, brush teeth, eat). Our son with ADHD uses a magnetic visual schedule to help him move smoothly through the routine. By beginning a few weeks before school begins, I can guide them through the activities until it becomes habit.
With experience, I have learned that the nine months of school affect the entire family. While our school-aged kiddos are affected on a personal level by the crazy mornings, exciting days, and tired nights, the rest of us feel the influence as well. As a stay-at-home momma, I probably receive the most recoil as I try to prepare the children for each day and gather my chicks back under my wings each night. Very quickly I learned that I had to dramatically change my life to survive the season of school-aged children. Actually, I wanted to do more than survive. I desired to thrive and soak up each precious fleeting moment.
I recognize that I have to prepare my body for the day before I give my first hug of the morning. My children need me at my best and rolling out of bed still groggy from the previous night’s sleep isn’t going to cut it. For starters, I make sure that I am showered, dressed, and ready for the day before our kiddos get out of bed. This allows me to focus fully on the kids’ needs and to immediately attend to any escalating issues. Plus, there’s nothing like a warm shower to make a body feel refreshed.
While this was a great start, I realized a few years back that I needed to prepare every aspect of my life. While being physically ready for the morning made a dramatic difference, God made it very clear that He wanted to prepare my heart. He brought me to such a low place in parenting that the only way out was to open my heart and allow Him to pull me up. I had no other option than to allow Him to guide my words, my thoughts, my actions, and my faith.
Now, I don’t start a morning without first receiving wisdom from His Word, strength from talking to Him in prayer, and direction from understanding that my purpose in life is to bring God glory. God showed me how to make my quiet times, worth the time. He showed me how to prepare my body and soul to be the best parent that I can be with the children He has gifted us.
School time can be a rollercoaster of activities. But a little prep with the kiddos and a prepared parent each morning can help make it a year that everyone not only survives but thrives.
Heidi Franz is a stay-at-home, Jesus-seekin’ momma of four who loves to connect with and encourage other women. She is the creator of the popular online Preschool Bible Curriculum website ABC Jesus Loves Me and blogs at Our Out-of-Sync Life.