I sit in the pre-dawn hours of the morning of the first day of another new school year, coffee and planner in hand, contemplating what lies ahead. The year is off to an auspicious start: I’ve set my alarm sufficiently early to allow for quiet devotional time and reflection before rousting my boys from their beds. Backpacks sit at the ready, filled to the overflowing with labeled school supplies. The number two pencils are sharpened to a deadly point with not a single eraser chewed off yet. School uniforms have been pre-laundered and ironed. We’re ready – at least for the first day of school.
In my quiet time, I contemplate how to make this the best school year ever for my children. With a sixth grader and one heading off to high school, I face the logistical dilemmas that confound so many other mothers – how to get everyone where they need to be, on time, with the things they need, all at the same time.
In my own life, I find great value in setting and actively pursuing resolutions, defined goals, to achieve desired results. I don’t wait for New Year’s to set resolutions – it can happen at the start of a new liturgical season, the beginning of a month, or even any day ending in the letter “y”. My goals for my sons’ new school year remain the same year after year. I hope this will be a year filled with spiritual and academic growth, fun times with their friends, and pursuit of new and favorite extracurricular activities.
Here are some of my specific resolutions to help make this school year the best ever for our family:
* Pray on the Way – Keeping prayer time central to our family life is important to all of us, but we sometimes let things slip around our house. This year, I commit to a time of prayer with each of my boys on our way to school in the morning. This is a tradition begun by my own mother and one that’s become reflexive in our family. As soon as the car is turned on prayer begins, setting the tone for the day and offering it to God as a sign of our love. A friend told me last year that she frequently asks her children, “What would you like for me to pray for?” This simple phrase has led to wonderful discussions and yet another way for me to support and encourage my children in their daily lives.
* Be Organized – I typically get off to a good start at the beginning of the school year, but somehow lose the “eye of the Tiger” on family organization just when it’s most needed. I will keep a family calendar, consulting it frequently and anticipating events in advance. I will communicate with my husband about times when he may be needed to “pinch hit” with rides, homework help, brownie baking and other facts of school year life. I will have a good sense of not only what each day holds, but also what the scope of the week looks like. Conflicts and surprises will occur, but not when I should have been planning for them and just dropped the ball.
* Family Dinner – I will make every effort to prepare and serve healthy meals for my family. This will involve being a better shopper, since a big part of my problem with cooking is not having the right things in the pantry. With our family members being busier than ever, our dinners together (whenever they are possible) will be a retreat and a chance for needed communication. I will not give in to the rat race and find myself “driving through” on the way home from Football practice because there’s nothing healthy to cook at home.
* Homework Helper – I will give my sons the tools they need to thrive academically. This will include a quiet environment in which to do homework, the supplies necessary to do the job, and a supportive attitude. I will encourage, not nag, and will try to help them to establish the good time management skills that will serve them in their future lives.
* Spread the Love – As frequently as possible, I will tell my sons how much I love them and how very proud I am of them. I will keep critical comments to myself and will encourage them positively to live up to their full potential. I will exalt in their happy moments and will lovingly support them through tough times without dwelling to much on the “I told you so” moments. I will remind my husband frequently of how much I value him as a partner, a co-parent and a friend. I will not let tiredness or frustration dictate the tone of my conversation with my family. I will collect as many hugs and kisses as I can get from growing boys!
I’m hoping to look back on my list of resolutions in the not-to-distant future and to be able to give myself a “check plus” on these few simple goals for our family. A Mom’s job is never done, but it’s great to take time along the way to refine and enhance our performance in what is surely our greatest responsibility – the raising of Godly and happy children.
Lisa M. Hendey, wife and mother, is webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com. Visit her at www.lisahendey.com.