Hey parents! Are you gearing up for another school year? Are you exhausted from weighing your options? Do you feel like you can’t make one more decision? Yep, me too.
With the fear and uncertainty surrounding back to school plans, we could all use a good parent orientation meeting with Jesus. Amiright?!
Listen, I know that you have looked at this thing from every angle. You’ve prayed and asked God to give you wisdom in what is best and safest for your children and family. This year has presented us with more than our fair share of stresses and fears, but that does not have to carry over into your school experience, nor does it have to steal your joy!
Whether you have decided to send your kids to school or educate from home—take a breath. God has your kids in his hands and he will be faithful. After all, he loves them more than you ever could. And remember that your mission as parents has not changed. Your family is still an important vessel of the gospel.
Although this new school year looks anything but normal, you can still thrive by giving your children the gift of peace and stability in your home with these simple suggestions.
Cultivate peace and stability
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness . . . choose this day whom you will serve. . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14–15 ESV).
As parents, we have tremendous influence over the direction of our household. This is a responsibility we should always be mindful of and intentional about. Whether your family has chosen to attend school or educate from home, as believers in Christ you are a witness to others.
Before we step foot out of our homes each day, it is imperative that we pause to remember who we serve. We must continually set an example for our children. After all, they do not have to be a certain age in order to be a witness for the gospel. In fact, children are perfectly capable of coming alongside parents to share the love of Christ with a stressed out and lost world.
A friend recently shared that she always reminds her children of two things before she leaves her home:
1) You are representing our family.
2) More importantly, you are representing the kingdom of God.
Her words are a beautiful reminder of the purpose of our family—to share Christ with others and raise our children to do the same.
“Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 CSB).
Prayer is not a guarantee that everything in our day will go smoothly or according to schedule. It is the first step in setting our minds on God and acknowledging our dependence upon him.
When we start our day with prayer, we are positioning ourselves and families toward a mindset of peace. If we’ve already committed our mind and heart to the Lord, it is much harder for the enemy to use circumstances to derail our days.
Recognize the scripture reference from Ephesians? Yep—verse 18 immediately follows the description of the armor of God.
Before you start your day in the classroom or at home, try praying the armor of God over each family member together. If you have younger children, have them act out each piece of the armor as it is being prayed.
What better way to send your family out each day than as armed warriors for the gospel!
Music can help set a positive tone—no pun intended—in our homes. Negativity seems to surround us from every angle. Playing worship music is a fantastic way to create an atmosphere of peace and focus on the Lord.
Have an Alexa? Google? Siri? Some of our favorite stations include: For King and Country, Red Rock Worship, and Elevation Worship!
For homeschooling families, silence can be deafening. It also has the potential to enhance little sounds that end up annoying and distracting everyone from their task at hand.
(Although I am sure the leg drumming, pencil tapping, and incessant humming only happens at my house.)
While your children work on their assignments, play music softly to help absorb those (precious) little sounds and keep Mama sane.
Studies have shown the positive impact of peaceful music on the brain, and how music focuses our minds and helps us to better process information. I have heard testimonies from countless mom friends about how much playing praise and worship music changes the atmosphere of their homes.
With Christian music, sibling squabbles are less frequent, kids focus better, and there is an element of peace and joy they cannot quite account for. Consider going throughout your day with praise and worship playing in the background during breakfast, while driving to school, during homework, and while cooking dinner.
It’s worth a try, right?
4. Minimize distraction
Distraction is everywhere.
We are all subject to it. Left to ourselves, we can easily fall prey to every distraction that surrounds us: television, phones, social media, e-mails, tasks to be completed. All of these things vie for our attention. If we aren’t careful, anxiety can well up, as each task screams its own urgency.
It takes a tough dose of self-discipline to be intentional amid the distractions.
I am a task-master, a doer, a check-it-off-the-list kind of person. I have also created some pretty miserable moments because of it. Having learned the hard way, may I now encourage you to skip all of the unpleasantness and be intentional to set aside your distractions?
I assure you, those tasks will be waiting for you when you are ready and able to give attention to them.
- During school work keep the television off, except when you are watching something educational.
- Communicate with anyone who is likely to call or text, ahead of time. Let them know your “school hours” and ask them to only contact you when necessary.
- It’s very tempting to hop on social media while your child works out a problem or reads a paragraph. Before you know it, you are engrossed and annoyed when he or she suddenly needs you. Put the phone away.
- “Turn in” screens at the end of the day so family time is not interrupted.
- Schedule time in your day to complete a task (or two) at a time, rather than letting everything pile up to be completed all at once.
- Say “no” to outside interruptions when you can.
5. Everybody pitch in
If you are a parent reading this article, you know that your tasks are never complete.
Dishes get dirty (again and again), laundry overflows when you’ve only just put it all away, and bills are due at the same time each month.
No matter your daily schedule, a little help goes a long way.
Everyone in your home can do something. Delegate chores so you are not spinning all the plates. We tell our kids that our family is a team and each of them is a valuable player. We need everyone to contribute so we can take care of our home and the things God has given us to steward.
My kids like it when I give them each a post-it note with the tasks I need them to complete. A few items seem to be less overwhelming and gives them a sense of pride and ownership of their personal tasks.
Some families use charts or posted lists. Choose what works best for you. Give yourself a leg up on tackling those tedious tasks so you can get it done and get to having fun!
And bonus, you are teaching your kids life skills to help them succeed as adults (I don’t want to talk about it . . . I’m not crying—you’re crying!).
6. Stay connected
No matter how you choose to do school, remember the enemy’s desire is to divide and disconnect the family.
A family united and following after Christ is his worst nightmare and greatest threat.
We all need down time to recover from a busy day and rest our minds. Being intentional about coming together will ensure your family stays connected. Ask questions about each other’s day, tell funny stories, laugh together.
One of my family’s favorite meal time traditions is: would you rather questions. They are fun, goofy questions that spark all kinds of excitement and get everyone talking instead of giving one-word responses.
There are many topic ideas on Pinterest, or you can check out my list.
Here are some other practical suggestions for connecting as a family:
- Prioritize family time by doing something everyone enjoys. Take turns choosing the activity so everyone gets the fun of planning their own night.
- Choose a family devotional and take turns reading it each night. Our family is currently enjoying Patrick and Ruth Schwenk’s family devotional, Faith Forward.
- Play games.
- Have a weekly family movie night. We are currently watching the complete seasons of The Andy Griffith Show on Amazon Prime and it is the best!
7. Schedule Technology
Screens don’t have to be the enemy or the source of contempt between you and your kids.
A little screen time, when monitored and used productively, can be a good tool. Plus, it gives Mom and Dad a small break.
My husband and I schedule tech time to safeguard against conflict over when to turn all electronics off. Our kids know the time of day and amount of time they are allowed to be on screens, so there is no question as to when their time is over or what their limits are.
Bonus—we have also instituted the rule that if our kids do not go to bed when they are asked, they forego the privilege of screen time the following day.
It’s a game changer—You’re welcome.
Be bold and breathe
Yes, it has been a crazy year.
Yes, we are weary.
Yes, life is pretty crazy right now.
But I believe the Lord is calling families for such a time as this to lead their children in faith, despite the uncertainties we are experiencing. I believe he has a plan and a purpose and will use Christian families to his glory, in all settings of education this school year.
Sweet parents, be bold and confident in what he has called you to this fall. Take another deep breath and go hug your people.
We are going to get through this. And dare I say it? We are going to thrive!