Summer is a time of relaxed schedules for most of us–less routine and more spontaneity. I have so enjoyed our time as a family to slow down and experience life together. As the summer winds down and the new school year approaches, we begin to adjust our thinking to schedules and routines once again. We often plan to be more organized, more prepared, and more prompt than last year.
But just like new year’s resolutions, our plans for a great school year often get thrown aside like last year’s fads. Our schedule gets busy, and we fall into the same old habits of fast food, forgotten homework, and late night projects that we swore off after open house. As both a mom and a teacher, I have lived through this season many times, and I have finally learned some secrets to a great school year.
First, lead by example.
We have to make our relationship with the Lord our number one priority. If we will start every morning with Jesus, we will be filled and empowered to walk with the Lord the remainder of the day. Only then can we parent our children through the school year with grace and peace.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).
Think of the flight attendant’s advice on an airplane. In an emergency, parents are told to secure their own oxygen first and then tend to their children’s. Why? Because if the parent is incapacitated, she certainly can’t take care of her child. The same is true spiritually. We cannot be effective parents if we are not in a right relationship with God. Make daily quiet time with the Lord your number one priority before everything else in your busy schedule.
Second, have family dinner.
Once the school year begins, dinners at home are few and far between. With sports, music, church, and meetings, finding the time to prepare meals and have dinner as a family can become rather difficult. We have to make family dinner a priority. Decide how many nights each week that you are determined to have dinner at home, and then commit to it.
During volleyball season, we used to plan for three nights per week, but we made those three nights count. Dinner at the table meant no television or cell phones, no negative talk, and no arguing! We were committed to talk about our day, read a devotion, and pray together.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
This verse is known as the Shema, which is Hebrew for “hear.” We need to let our children hear that God is good, that we love Him, that He is worthy of our worship. Committing to this time at the family table will keep you grounded as a family when the school year rush sets in.
Third, pray over your children. Out loud. In front of them.
This advice is one in which we failed as parents. We didn’t pray over them much after they became teenagers. Oh, we definitely prayed for them and even with them at the table, but we didn’t pray as much over them. I believe our children need to hear our hearts for them. They need to hear us intercede for them and speak words of life over them. Find Scriptures that you can pray over them and speak blessings over your children. Bedtime would be a great time to do that.
“All your sons and daughters will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace” (Isaiah 54:13).
Pray often and specifically for your kids. Pray for their protection, wisdom, direction, attitude, and choices. Pray for their friends, teachers, and coaches. Pray that God would order their steps in His Word (Psalm 119:133).
I truly believe that if we will commit to these three steps this school year, our routines will become more peaceful and our families will enjoy the blessings of the Lord.