School is back in full swing! I am the dad of a little girl starting preschool this year, and I am feeling all the feels. Back to school brings up an issue that is very hard for some of us: change. Many people are a few weeks into the first semester and are already beginning to feel overwhelmed. Trust me friend, you are not alone. We get used to a rhythm and a routine and then it all changes suddenly and dramatically! It can be easy to get frustrated with the shifting season, but what if we looked at it as an opportunity to become better parents and find ways to grow and love our family with greater intentionality? 

Here are four practical tips to help you and your family as you continue to adjust to another year of tests, homework, field trips, parent-teacher conferences, practice and games, and studying. 

1. Find time everyday to connect, intentionally. 

Dinner is a natural time to try to protect and to use to check in with everyone about their days. If your family is able to set apart this time, awesome! Use it to talk about highs and lows, questions, observations, and feelings from the day. Some families have a very busy schedule and are used to getting dinner on the run. If that is you, awesome! But work together to identify 10-15 minutes to do this kind of check in with each of your kids (i.e. in the car on the way to practice or before bedtime). 

If you find that you’re overcommitted, have a family discussion about finding balance and how much can fit into one schedule. If your children are adding something new to their plate, what can be taken off? Also, are you scheduling time throughout your week for fun? 

2. Play time and healthy snacks after school, before homework.

Kids need breaks and afternoon energy boosts to get them through the hours left before bed. Work to discuss and create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play, and study. I don’t want to come home from a long day at work, only to continue to work without having first had a few moments of relaxation or play time… so why expect my kids to be able to do so? Sometimes it is helpful to have a whiteboard with times to remind everyone in the family how long play/break time lasts, some ideas for healthy snack options, and time that needs to be used exclusively for homework. Don’t forget to provide some incentives for completing work and staying on task! 

3. Refresh your rules about screen time for the school year. What’s allowed and when?

Summertime rules don’t work when school starts. Have a family meeting to come up with some boundaries and guidelines about the use of devices, video games, tablets, phones, TV, movies, and social media. We use more screens everyday than we realize! It is so important to have everyone on the same page about this topic. During the discussion, make sure to hear ideas from every member of the family. Try putting the rules that are chosen up on a whiteboard or poster to refer to. 

4. Create a dedicated space in your home for your kids to store their school supplies and technology.

It’s important to stay organized and to get into healthy habits at the onset of the year. Give each child a homework station, personalized tote, cubby, or shelf to put their school-related items on everyday when they get home. This is a proactive way to avoid backpacks, papers, sports clothes, water bottles, school supplies, and projects being strung throughout the house. We have an opportunity as parents to model organization skills to our kiddos, which will help them to reach their academic goals and help them to stay focused! Organizing and maintaining our external world can often help us to feel less anxious on the inside.

So, take one or all of these and find ways to implement them in your home. Already doing all of these? You are amazing! Keep up the good work and find ways to further improve in each of these areas. Don’t forget to take time to practice good self care individually (and finding time to connect with your spouse, if you are married). 

Are you struggling financially with all of the fees and costs that often come with the beginning of the school year? Again, you’re not alone! We want to offer you an opportunity to meet with excellent, qualified counselors at a reduced rate. We are so excited to welcome five masters-level counseling interns to our team at almost all of our locations. Each counselor specializes in different areas, so be sure to click here and to read through each their bios (based on location). Have other questions? Give us a call at 720-594-4469 or email us at info@christiancounselingco.com. We are wishing you the very BEST school year yet!