I’ll admit, after twenty-two years of parenting and teaching, sending my last child off to college seems surreal. How can those formative days of parenting be over already? My children are adults, and even though I will always be their mom, my opportunity to “train them up in the Lord” has ended. Now they are making their own decisions based on the seeds we planted when they were growing up.
To all of you who are still raising your children at home, I want to impart to you today just how important those early years are. When you are staring down your empty nest, I promise you won’t be pondering if you bought them enough stuff or enrolled them in enough activities or took them to enough events.
You will only ask yourself if you prepared them well enough for life. As a Christian, our number one role as parents is to disciple our children in the gospel, but in the fast-paced, technological world we live in, many of us don’t plan for spiritual training as well as we should. Sure, we teach them important lessons through everyday life, but real spiritual training must be intentional.
And it’s not the church’s job. It’s ours.
“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 6:6-7, NIV
How to Plan for Your Best School Year Ever
So, as the new school year is beginning or has just begun, I want to share how to plan for your school year in a way that makes the most of your time. I found over the years that planning for the everyday activities of life helped us to be more intentional about spiritual training.
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”Psalm 90:12
Organization is key, so if you haven’t already, you need to get a big family planner to keep track of everything. We kept ours on the refrigerator for many years. Then as the kids got older, I just kept track of everything on my personal planner.
Plan school and extracurricular activities.
First, use your school calendar to add all school events, holidays, and parent-teacher conferences to your monthly planner. Next, look at each week. Schedule all sporting and extra-curricular activities for that week.
Depending on the age of your children, you may want to have a weekly schedule that you keep on the front of the refrigerator. You will find it especially helpful in the mornings when your children need to remember gym clothes or sports equipment on certain days.
One activity that really helped our family was planning meals. I would usually plan a week of meals and do the grocery shopping on Saturday. If I knew we had a game on a certain day, I could be sure to have cash for eating out on those days, because we usually got home late. In the midst of the busy week, I could just look at the meal plan the night before and take out any meat that needed to defrost.
Another activity to plan for is house cleaning. We did our weekly housecleaning on Thursday nights because we didn’t usually have activities then, and it would allow us to enjoy the weekend. When we had a game on Thursday night, we switched to Friday night. Our kids each had a list of chores for which they were responsible, and I had my own list as well.
We would set the stove timer for 30 minutes so housework didn’t seem so long and dragged out. I would sometimes put on fast music, such as TobyMac to get them to work. If each of us did his part, we could have bathrooms cleaned, rooms straightened, furniture dusted, windows cleaned, and floors vacuumed in 30 minutes.
My children have done their own laundry since they were old enough to reach the knobs on the washer and dryer. We typically each had a specific day for laundry such as Josiah on Monday, Bethany on Tuesday, mine and Kenneth’s whites on Wednesday, our coloreds on Thursday, and I generally did towels and bed sheets on Saturday.
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”Proverbs 14:23
I know all of this sounds so mundane and unspiritual, but I promise these little things were teaching them the value of planning, organization, and hard work. But most importantly, it helped us plan for the things that mattered.
Having order in our home freed us up to focus on the things of God. Otherwise, we would get caught up in school, activities, and homework. We would eat out too much when I didn’t plan meals. And then we would all be tired and argue about housework. By then, nobody was interested in family devotions or prayer.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.”Proverbs 14:1
Plan family devotions and fun times together.
Once our school, extra-curricular activities, meals, and housework were scheduled, I could plan for family dinners, family night, and date night. These are the three things that held our family together.
We planned for family dinner at the dinner table as many nights of the week as possible. Studies show that kids who eat dinner at the dinner table with no television or cell phones around perform better in school. We would take turns reading a devotion and praying together. These were the times that we were intentionally instilling the Word of God in our children.
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”Proverbs 21:5
We tried to have a family night on Friday or Saturday night, which could include pizza and board games or a movie and popcorn. Kenneth and I also did our best to have a date night once a month without the kids to just enjoy each other. I honestly believe that made us better parents.
I know from experience that if we don’t plan for these times with our children, they won’t happen very often. Oh, we’ll have good intentions, but we’ll just never get around to them. Don’t let your child’s eighteen years roll by and then be left with a lot of regrets. Plan for meaningful times with them.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”.Proverbs 22:5
They may not always make the right choices, but you can trust this principle that instilling the right values in our children will always pay off.
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge your harvest of righteousness.”2 Corinthians 9:10
Now, go get that big calendar and plan your school year. Let your kids help pick out a family devotion book, plan family night activities, and even give you ideas for supper. Better yet, let them choose a date night activity for you and your spouse. They may think of something you wouldn’t have. 🙂
It may seem so simple and mundane, but a little planning is all it takes to give your family a fantastic school year–one in which your family enjoys time together in the Word and prayer–making memories, building character, and most of all, growing spiritually. Plant those seeds, because harvest time is coming.