by Valerie Morby Posted Aug 20, 2019
Let’s be honest: unless you’re Maria Von Trapp, parenting children during the school year can be rough. You start out with the best intentions, but before long you’re living on a prayer and sending marshmallows and mustard packets for your kids’ lunches. You’ll find no judgement here, Mom and Dad! Instead, we want to come alongside you and help equip you and your family for a Christ-centered, others-focused, and seriously fun school year!
We decided to call in the experts, so please enjoy the wisdom of some Pine Cove staff alumni who have many awesome suggestions to make parenting during the school year a little less stressful.
Darcie “iMac” Lantz: As a mom, give yourself the time you need to be 20 minutes ahead of your kids in the morning. I used to roll out of bed and go wake them up five minutes later, and we were always hurried. Now I get up earlier so I can make lunches or start breakfast, and get myself ready for the day first, so when I wake them, I can be devoted to helping them get ready for THEIR day.
Megan “Victory” Hunt: Our family eats breakfast together every morning. With five kids going in different directions, it’s so important (but really tricky!) for us to have a daily routine of being together. Evenings are sometimes busy with school and work and extracurricular activities, but we intentionally set aside breakfast as our “family meeting” time. We talk about the day ahead, share excitement or anxiety, and spend time in God’s word together. Our family breakfast time helps us stay connected to one another as we head into the world each day.
Ginger “Tuck-N-Whoa” Ciminello: Part of our dinner clean-up routine involves packing lunches, snacks and water bottles for the next day. We also have a spot for folders, lunch boxes, papers, and backpacks so we hopefully always know where to find things in the morning. (Working at Pine Cove taught me the valuable principle of storage and retrieval! Thank you, Jason “Payless” Wallace.) We also pick out school clothes the night before. Carrie “Duchess” Langemeier taught me the phrase “Give me 5.” My kids know that routine at bedtime and in the morning: pajamas/clothes, toothbrush, restroom break, floor clean/bed made, backpack laid out/packed.
Hallie “Voilà” Wallace: Playing fun camp music in the morning while we eat and get ready, silly jokes or riddles in their lunches, then hugs and high fives as they depart!
Darcie: Daily (small) celebrations! Breakfasts like Muffin Mondays and Waffle Wednesdays, Treat Tuesdays (usually a Sonic run after school), and Fun Friday—go do something fun after school or have a friend over.
Ginger: As soon as we finish homework, we try to embrace fun and play: baking, imagination, dance parties, going outside. My kiddos might prefer screens, but we try and avoid them during the week. We also keep the music pumping in the car. Sometimes it’s worship music and sometimes it’s just a beat to lift the mood!
Megan: Our kids write notes and draw pictures for their siblings (and sometimes parents!) that are tucked into lunchboxes and backpacks to be discovered during the school day. It’s a fun way to surprise and encourage each other as we head all different directions during the day.
Ginger: As soon as the garage door closes, my kids know that I will turn down the music and we will pray for our day. It’s become such a routine that on a day where I’m flustered and might forget, my kids will remind me. “MOM! We didn’t pray yet!” I love that. We also listen to a lot of music that is straight scripture. Seeds Family Worship, Steve Green, and old school Psalty are some of our favorites.
Hallie: We pray over the day on the last stretch of road just before turning into the school campus. We pause whatever we’re doing—listening to the radio, chatting, reading—and pray for the day, opportunities to listen and show kindness, that we’d each be ambassadors for Jesus while we’re each doing our job.
Megan: I set alarms on my phone to pray during the school day! I pray for my kids and their specific needs, for their teachers and school staff, and for the other children my own kids will encounter at school.
Darcie: As our kids have gotten older, we’ve started implementing a daily planner and a flat desk calendar for them. We’ve learned that if we want our kids to be organized, it’s OUR job to teach and equip them to be organized. They won’t do it/figure it out on their own.
Hallie: One, shoot an encouraging email or send a note to your child’s teacher at the start of the year and again later in the year. Educators often only hear from parents when there’s a question or a problem, so showing your support and partnership is wonderful. As a former teacher/professor, I can say this was a huge blessing!
Two, pray for patience and focus on what God has for YOUR family, not comparing your kiddos to anyone else. Seek advice from other parents whom you admire, but remember for whom we ultimately endeavor and parent.
Ginger: Even if the morning is crazy or stressful, we always take a moment before everyone exits the car to regroup. Sometimes that involves apologies and repentance. Often it just means eye contact and the reminder that, “I love you so much, no matter what.”
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)