The first thing to do is decide what is truly important. Is the added stress of having jam - packed days really worth it? Can some of the things you wanted to do this summer wait until fall, or can you let go of a few ideas in an effort to stay calm and focused? Do your kids really need all of the stuff on their back to school lists, or is there a simpler way?
Here are some suggestions to help you manage the next week so that you and your family can enjoy some quality time together rather than running from place to place as time winds down:
- Most classroom teachers send home a list of supplies for the coming year. Before you go out and buy all new folders, notebooks, and pencils, have your kids check through their rooms, and go through your supply of extras. You might be surprised at what you already have at home.
- For supplies you do need to buy, check for sales at local stores. Make a list before you shop so you can get everything at once rather than having to make multiple trips.
- Lunchboxes and backpacks can be cleaned and reused. Help your kids understand that reusing items saves money, time, and resources, and encourage them to find new ways to use the things they already have.
- While kids are famous for growing during the summer, it is unlikely you need to provide a whole new wardrobe for back to school. Have your kids go through their clothes and help them choose the things they can continue to wear. Agree on a list of what you will buy before you leave the house, and set a price limit. For older kids, let them work with a dollar amount as they decide what is most important to them. Younger kids can help pick out what they like as you help them keep track of the cost. Make sure to have your kids try on everything before buying. Finding out something doesn’t fit right or doesn’t look the way they hoped after you are already home is frustrating and time consuming.
- Reconsider all of the trips and activities you wanted to do this summer. Have a family meeting and work together to choose one or two things that are most important. Family fun doesn’t have to mean a road trip or time away. Help them find ways to enjoy their time at home- perhaps a family game night, squirt gun wars in the yard, or a movie night with sleeping bags on the living room.
- Take a look at your own schedule. Decide if there are appointments or other obligations that can wait until the kids are back in school. When you are going through your schedule, make sure to put in time for yourself or time to visit with friends. Taking care of yourself is always important, especially during busy times.
- If you haven’t already, get your kids back on their school year bedtime schedule. This will make things so much easier when the alarm rings, and they will wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
- Enjoy the last few days of summer vacation with your kids. While at times it may seem they aren’t listening to what you say, they need and value their time with you. Have them help you with lunch or dinner, read together in the evening, or just relax and enjoy each other’s company. You are their best example of a loving parent and they will remember the quality of their relationship with you far more than any trip they may take or activity they may do.
Parenting is a gift with so many opportunities for connection and joy. Yes, there are
hard times, and times when it may seem like you and your children are speaking two different languages, but these are the years that will teach them about trust, relationships, and working together as a family. The time you spend with your children is far more important than anything else. So choose your activities wisely, cut down where you can, and enjoy the last few days of vacation. You will all benefit from time together, and the memories you create will last a lifetime.
Next time we will take a closer look at back to school, and offer suggestions for easy and healthy snacks and lunches.
Health and Healing the Simple Way!