When I was a child, I used to think the New Year began with the start of school. In many ways, for parents and children the first day of school is as significant as New Year’s day. As with the new calendar year, the new school year is a great time to reflect on the past, take inventory of where we are now, and set intentions for where we want to go during the upcoming year. I know for myself, and most my friends who are parents, the start of the school year is a mixed blessing—on the one hand we’re excited to get back into a rhythm and routine and theoretically have a little more time for ourselves—on the other hand we dread the early mornings, monotony, schedule, constant rush, and driving!
As I thought about the new school year, I realized how easy it is to go on autopilot or simply feel we have no choice but to jump on an already moving train of commitments, scheduling, volunteering, and organizing. Before my kids were school-aged, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thinking about Halloween costumes the day after Labor Day, nor did I already begin to feel the dread of the upcoming Holiday rush, but now come September my relaxed summer attitude vanishes and I automatically go into planning mode.
As I mentioned in my blog Embracing the Unknown, this year my husband and I decided to move to a new state for a year, so my children are starting a new school. This change of routine has allowed me to pause—I realized, much like I set intentions on New Year’s Day for my “ideal” year, I have an opportunity to set intentions to create my “ideal” school year. So I decided to engage in the following process to help make the school year more enjoyable for my family…
First, I asked myself the following questions: What felt good about the previous school year for my children and myself? What didn’t work? What are my hopes for my kids this year? What are my goals? What are my husband’s goals? Once I had the answers to these questions in my mind, I started to develop a list of written intentions.
One of my intentions is to slow down and give my children, and myself, more space and time. I realize in the past there is often a little voice (or pit in my stomach) that’s telling me not to volunteer for one more committee or sign my kids up for yet another activity. This year I am setting an intention to honor my instincts and see what happens when I have unscheduled time rather than filling up each moment.
Another intention is to be realistic about how much time I have to accomplish what I’d like to do each day. There are so many things I would like to do, but I realize I need to choose and prioritize what goals I really want to accomplish and then be willing to carve out the time it takes to reach each of these goals. In the past I’ve found the week tends to be shaped by the children’s needs, but this year I’d like to find time for my goals as well. High on my list of goals for myself are: my daily twenty-minute meditation, exercising a few times a week, date nights with my husband, and writing each day.
I am also committing to creating new habits that will help me address the causes of the daily stress I, and many parents, encounter during the school year. Some of these new habits include: waking up earlier so I have more time in the day, organizing dinners ahead of time, and better managing my kids’ bedtime routines. As Leo Babauta suggests in his book The Power of Less, I find it’s easier to maintain and adopt a new habit if I focus on developing only one or two habits per month. In other words, I’d probably be taking on too much if I tried to change all my, and my kids’, habits at once so I may start with waking up earlier this month and then work on the bedtime routines next month.
Finally, I am setting the intention to stay on top of the organization that comes with children going back to school. One of the things I always try to prepare for is the extra stuff my children bring home from school, such as artwork, science projects, and schoolwork. For tips check out our blog, How to Organize Your Children’s Art and Schoolwork (we just added new tips!).
I will also continue to work on making the mornings as calm as possible (rather than the daily rush to get out the door that often feels chaotic). For tips on how to get your kids out the door in the most peaceful manner as possible check out our blog, Getting Your Kids Out the Door: Eight Tips for a Peaceful Morning.
So those are my intentions, what intentions would you like to set for the new school year?
If you like this blog, you may also like:
Slowing Down With Our Children
The Power of Listening to Your Children
How to Organize Your Children’s Art and Schoolwork
Getting Your Kids Out the Door: Eight Tips for a Peaceful Morning