At back-to-school time, I’m always torn between wanting to get back into a routine and wanting to stay in that laid back, barefoot, sun tanning groove that we had going all summer. I’m always looking for tips to start the school year, and lately, I want to make sure they’re tips that help my whole family thrive.
I didn’t get a whole lot of work done this summer, but wow! We had some pretty amazing times together. We spent oodles of time with family and friends who we don’t normally get to see. We hosted families in our home and traveled across states to visit grandparents, great-grandparents, and friends.
We made some special memories together. We learned about each other and we learned about ourselves. Thanks to this summer, we grew together as a family.
Sadly, the day has come and our kids have gone back to school. This year we have kids across the spectrum of schooling options: some are full-time in public school, some are full-time homeschooling, and some are even half-and-half.
Each of our kids have different needs for their education. I’m thankful that we have been able to be flexible and keep each one in an environment that encourages them to love learning and strive to be their best.
We’ve struggled to reach this point, and I have no illusions: this year is going to be hard.
Over the years my husband and I have learned that if we are intentional about three specific things, then our family runs more smoothly and everyone is on the same page. He calls this “winning at home.”
When our family is winning, we’re thriving, which is what makes my heart glow and the challenges something that we face with courage.
3 Tips to Start the School Year So Your Family Can Thrive
1. Get on the same page with family meetings.
Whether your kids are in public school, homeschooled, or in private school, the school year can quickly get crazy and out of control with sports activities, academic school clubs, and homework.
Be intentional about communicating with your kids and give them a safe place to voice and express their frustrations. Open communication is key to overcoming the excitement and stresses of the new schedule, new classes, new material, and new people drama (with friends, teachers, parents…).
With six kids, each with different schedules, it became nearly impossible to sit down together as a family for dinner or even game nights.
Confusion seemed to overcome us. We were no longer on the same page about anything, from bathroom time to driving schedules. Who was taking who and where were they going and what time and how do we keep track of all of this?
Family meetings have become what my husband calls the glue that holds the family together. These weekly meetings allow us to not only collaborate and coordinate all the craziness, but they help us to communicate on a deeper level.
It doesn’t hurt that my husband is CEO of Ziglar Family, or that he has a streak of parliamentary procedure that runs a mile wide. But I promise, you don’t need that to figure out a family meeting style for your family!
2. Learn to communicate on a deeper level.
Communication is essential for collaborating and coordinating. Your family needs to understand each other on a deeper level to be able to care for each other, support each other, and encourage each other in ways that bond and grow your family together.
The struggle to communicate begins when we don’t understand the communication style of the person we are talking to. In our family alone we have a wide variety of communication styles to learn.
Some of us (like me) are quiet, non-verbal, good listeners, while others are verbal, and we have a couple who are loud and aggressive. None are necessarily negative, but without understanding each other, feelings easily get hurt and frustration quickly takes over, which ultimately shuts down the communication path.
Learn, understand, and really appreciate each other’s personalities and communication styles, including love languages, and you will quickly find that communication gets easier.
3. Use a family calendar to keep it all straight.
We have a hallway white board. It might seem extreme, but it was from an old office and it has been one of the best finds for our family. We’ve divided it so that it shows three months at once, and it’s right by the door where everyone in our family goes in and out.
I just finished our first white board for the year. The months of August, September, and October are now embellished. It’s mostly after-school activities, including sports practices, games, academic clubs, driving school, and appointments with the dentist and orthodontist.
It adds up fast in our house with six teenagers, and this year is going to be no exception!
Without a central place for everyone’s schedule there is sure to be mass confusion and constant questions directed at Mom and Dad.
This calendar system is a quick glance for the kids on the way in from school or on the way out the door in the morning.
Be purposeful in your parenting and start your school year so that your family can thrive!