School is back in session for districts across the country. The start of the academic school year sets a number of actions in motion for parents: clothes and school supply shopping, new routines, preparation for fall extracurricular activities, and readjusting bed times. There are several aspects involved in transitions from lazy summer days to busy school festivities. Moreover, there are big milestones to mark. For some parents, this is the first-year venturing into ‘big kid’ school, while for others it is the last hoorah of senior year. Once the whirlwind of the first day settles, many parents will be left with a moment to pause and breathe. When you get this moment, I want to encourage you to use the time for reflection; a reset for the upcoming school year. Let’s visit some action steps to check off so that you may start the school year off on a strong note.
Set the tone.
Parents wear many hats. A parent fulfills every role in the home from peacemaker to entertainer to chef. It is because of this pivotal role, that a parent has the power to set the tone in the home. Imagine the atmosphere you would like to maintain in your home. Is it a laid-back vibe where you and your children joke and talk about the events of the day? Or do you desire a nurturing setting that fosters talk about personal attainment and goal-setting? Whatever you envision, a parent has the power to establish and implement the vision.
Cultivate attainable routines.
Complete setting the tone in your home by setting routines that your family can adhere to. This looks very different according to each home. The key is to set one meaningful goal for your family and orchestrate the moving parts to achieve the goal. For example, a family wishes to have family dinner on school nights. This is an attainable goal by way of coordinating afterschool and afterwork schedules. It can also be achieved by preplanning meals at the start of the week.
Parent from a mindful place.
My favorite parenting advice states: The days are long but the years are short. When child activities seem endless and parental duties never seem to end, it is easy to wear a ‘get it done’ mindset; however, in doing so we miss the beauty that is in child rearing. A lot of the daily mundane can later translate to precious memories. Parenting from a mindful place simply means to slow down and savor the moments of parenthood. Before you know it, the holidays will be upon us and soon after, the end of the school year. Stop and take stock of the cherished memories this school year will bring.
Fight the urge to compare.
As a parent, it is tempting to compare and gauge your competency based on other parents. Social media makes it very easy to compare. Take for example, the numerous ‘first day’ photos that bombard your news feeds every start of the school year. For the tired and overwhelmed parent, there could be pressure to look at this trend and feel compelled to participate for fear of being a bad parent… but why? I encourage you to use this upcoming school year to discern the purpose and meaning of participating in activities. Ask your self why you are doing a certain activity with your child. If the answer is because other parents are doing it, then I encourage you to rethink the purpose and reassess the benefit of it to you and your child.
For questions or if you are seeking support in improving your perspective on parenting, please contact the Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.