Well, the “back to school” honeymoon is over. The excitement has worn off. The heart-shaped sandwiches and love notes in the lunch boxes were short-lived. The new outfits have all been worn and are now just a heap of dirty laundry. And of course, the new zippered binder is already breaking. We are now asking at 6:10 a.m. with hints of desperation if we will really have to do this every day. Labor Day provides us a sick combination of time to recover from the initial shock of routine and time to regress back to our old patterns. We will likely lay in the fetal position again on Tuesday morning at 6:10 a.m. and ask why the long weekend was placed at this point in time to torment us so. Yep, this is what back to school looks like now.
I’ve thought and prayed a lot this last week about transitions. I’ve watched one of my little people break down and cry over needing to find and make new friends. And I was reminded of the simple fact that transition is hard. For real y’all! It’s hard to release your children into the care of someone else for most of their waking hours. It’s hard for those phenomenal teachers to go from vacation time and hours with their own sweet families to being in the classroom with ours. And it’s hard to send a kid off to college and set one less place at your dinner table. Transitioning is a part of life, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult. So this is why I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer for my family and for yours. For my friend who has a child trying out for the team for the first time. For my friend who just sent her boy away to college. For the child who is worried about making friends, the teacher who is exhausted and trying to find the work and family balance, and the mother who just wants her kindergarten baby back at home. I just feel like I want to say to all these people facing all these transitions: “Yes! I see you. I get it. It’s hard, and I’m praying for you. We’re all in this together.” So if you’re in the same boat as me, here are some reminders of what we can do to transition well. They’re not rocket science and you’re probably already doing many of these things. But I hope that something I say can help make your transition a little better.
Acknowledge that it’s hard. Give your kids permission to struggle. Let your kids know it’s hard for you too, and that it will take some time for everyone to adjust.
Give grace. To the child that made everyone late leaving and is fighting back tears. To the other child that forgot to do homework. To the mom (yes, me!) who forgets to put drinks in the lunchboxes. And to those parents who still don’t understand what to do in the car pick-up line. (Ok, sometimes me!)
Pray with your kids. At breakfast or in the car or whenever you can. Pray with them before their day. A peace will come over you all from praying together.
Pray specifically for your kids. Look for moments alone with each kid so they can share struggles and problems they may not want their siblings to know and so you can pray for them throughout the day. I have a child that prefers to do this through texting.
Pray for others transitioning around you. Especially for those in your inner circle who have shared their struggles with you. If you know the specifics, you are best equipped to pray. And of course pray for the teachers your kids have this year.
Recognize accomplishments and answered prayers. Like leaving on time. (We haven’ t done this yet.) Or your child finding their “group” to sit with at lunch. By just noticing these things, you’ll remind your family that they are making progress in the transition.
Make changes to improve things that aren’t working. Yep. Don’t expect to do the same thing and get different results, right? Problem-solve together. You may have to adjust wake up times, leaving times, route if driving, evening routines, where to keep backpacks and on and on. Make sure as things change that everyone knows and is on the same page.
Encourage encourage encourage. Encourage your kids, your friends as they are parenting, your kid’s teachers. We all need it. Send a quick text or email. Write a note and put it on your child’s pillow.
Remind your kids to look for others to help or encourage at school. Because my kid is there too, and they may be the one that needs a friend. We all need each other, and focusing on others keeps things in perspective.
Thank a teacher. This was already briefly mentioned but I could say it a million times. Make them brownies. Send them a note. Buy them a car. (Don’t we wish we could?) Many of them are doing this transition as a professional and as a parent. And I just don’t even know how except that they are so awesome.
So wake up early with me this week and let’s tackle this together. Don’t miss the opportunity to pray into this season of transition and to actively work to help your family and those in your circle of influence transition well.