Greetings fellow parent friends! Upon hearing the phrase “Back to School”, many of us celebrate and many of us cringe. There are even those of us who do both at the same time! After spending a long, hot summer at home with our children, many of us are eager to get them back to a place of structure, learning, and in separate classrooms to end the sibling rivalries that have peaked over the summer. Then there are those of us who have had our children in daycare and other academic camps and are feeling guilty that there really was no downtime for them to even call a summer. Of course there are also parents who are somewhere in between. No matter where you are on the back to school emotion spectrum, parents can benefit from some back to school preparation just as much as kids. Many articles you read will be about preparing your children and those are certainly necessary. However, there is some wisdom in the airline instructions of “place the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help children and others around you with their masks”. If we as parents prepare ourselves first, then it will make us much more successful in preparing our children for school.

Many families set “Back to School Resolutions” just like they set New Year’s Resolutions in January. Here is a list of resolutions I have heard families make (or that I’ve even made myself):

1. I will be more involved at my child’s school.

2. I will pack my children healthy lunches.

3. I will cook more and eat out less.

4. I will cook healthier dinners.

5. We will complete homework in a more timely and efficient manner and without arguments.

6. I will spend quality time with my children in the evenings and on weekends.

7. I will have a date night with my significant other once a month or once a week.*

8. I will work to have a more positive working relationship with my co-parent (for children living between two homes).**

9. I will stress less. ***

10. I will parent in a more positive manner.****

And as with New Year’s Resolutions, many of us make it through about the first 3 weeks of school accomplishing these wonderful resolutions and then we drift back to our old ways.

Here are some Back to School tips for successfully preparing us as parents:

  • When making Back to School Resolutions, keep it simple (go for 2 or 3 of the most important goals for your family, not 10 or 15).
  • Keep your expectations of yourself and your children realistic and understand that mistakes happen (you may feel like you have to be Supermom or Superdad or have a Superkid, but it’s ok if you aren’t Super everyday).
  • Plan in advance (trying to get everything done the week before school starts is not only stressful for you but your children pick up on that stress as well).
  • Use your support system (the other parents around you are dealing with similar situations so trade out babysitting so that if you have multiple children you only take one or two shopping at a time for clothes rather than taking them all at once).

So take a deep breath, make a plan (not an elaborate plan, just good, simple plan), and prepare YOURSELF for the new school year. Have a great year!

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” –Alexander Graham Bell (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell)

* The Parenting Center offers free marriage/relationship workshops on a regular basis and the Healthy Marriage Healthy Families Coalition offers free Marriage Enrichment Group Date Nights once a month. Call 817-632-5529 for details.

** The Parenting Center offers classes to help strengthen the relationship between co-parents to help make the situation more successful and easier for the children involved. Call 817-332-6348 to get more information on our Co-Parenting Essentials Class and our Kids First Class.

*** The Parenting Center offers Stress Management Support groups. Call 817-332-6348 for details.

****The Parenting Center offers many services related to positive parenting. Log on to www.theparentingcenter.org to see a calendar of classes or call 817-632-5528.