Have you gotten my school supplies list yet?
When is my Open House?
Over the last week, both my teens have pelted me with these unwelcome questions. I still have sand on my feet from my last trip to the beach, for goodness sakes! School is about to start?! Really? How rude.
And yet, I know I have to start preparing. Because I’ve learned the hard way that when I don’t have a proactive plan for success, I leave the door wide open for less than spectacular results.
I call that approach “survival mode.” Yes, I make sure the basics get done — homework, baths, eating. But when I’m in that mode, I don’t keep the big picture in mind. I neglect to make adjustments and cast vision for my children. I’m not deliberate about equipping and helping them set goals.
Sure, I might be making sure tonight’s Algebra homework gets done. But I also need to help them see how the “to-dos” of today help them accomplish what they want to do in the future.
So, in addition to the questions my children are asking me, here’s a few questions I’m asking myself:
Question #1: What’s not working? Right now, I’m looking back on last year. What are areas of struggle for me and my kids? Mornings continue to be a sore spot for us. And since morning sets the tone for the day, I think it’s worth my continuing effort to improve how our day begins.
How? Well, the last time I took a bath at night was when I was 7 years old. But I’ve decided I’m going to shower and wash my hair at night, instead of in the morning. And I’m going to get up 20 minutes before the kids. That way, I’ll be dressed and ready — and present and undistracted to better keep the kids on track.
I’m also going to start packing the next day’s lunch in the afternoon, when I’m emptying that day’s lunchbox leftovers. (Thank you, Kathy, for this brilliant tip.)
Question #2: Who do I need to call for help? Do your child(ren) need tutoring help? Are you interested in carpooling? A few weeks before school starts is the time to start thinking about setting up these arrangements. Tutors’ schedules fill up fast. I’m calling tutors this week so we can get times and days that work best for our family’s schedules.
Question #3: What can my kids do for themselves? Time goes by quickly. Our kids are growing up. Which means they are maturing and are able to do more than they were six months or a year ago.
But I know I’ve been guilty of continuing to do things for them that they can do for themselves. Just because I’ve always done it. It’s a habit. And I have control when I do it. It’s hard to let go of that! But we’re supposed to be equipping our children to live outside our home — without us. So, I’m turning over school uniform-washing duties to my 13-year-old son. My daughter is old enough to make more and more choices about her classes and what options she wants to pursue — or not pursue — to prepare her for college. She’s nearly 17. I have to back off in some areas.
Question #4: What projects and milestones are coming up this year? Molly will be taking her ACTs and SATs this year. We’re starting to talk to her about test preparation this fall, which includes tutoring. Micah has a big science fair project due this year. Last year, he forgot about his deadline to submit his project idea until 10 p.m. the night before it was due. To avoid that, I’m going to encourage him to decide on his idea early in the year. We can buy the materials and get a jump start on it.
Asking and answering these questions now will help equip us and our children when the school bell rings.
Soon, we’ll be off and running. And all our preparation (or lack of it!) will be put to the test.