Resources for the Intentional Parent

Making the most of the after school hours

I’ve given my resignation. My reign as “World’s Okay-est Stay at Home Mom” is coming to an end. Back to school means that both of my kids will be in a classroom, all day, September through May. It is equally exciting and sad. A bittersweet transition for me and my youngest. Come September, I’ll be working a job that pays in cash instead of hugs and goldfish and while I have worked from home some these past nine years, it is safe to say that my kids were my primary job. Instead of having the luxury (as the daughter of a single working mom, I know it’s was a luxury!) of quantity of time, I’m going to need to focus on making the time we have together, quality. We are going to be intentional by trying to:

1) Make the most of the end of summer and fall. Here in the northwest, August and September are some of the most beautiful months in the calendar year. It is tempting to miss out because of the frenzied rush to buy school supplies, attend school open houses, and finish all those home improvement projects we still have on our list, before the snow flies, but it’s not worth it. Instead, we are going to go camping. We are going to eat ice cream after school. We are going to stay up late occasionally and pray for an indian summer so the adventures don’t have to end. We are planning to have some “time well-wasted”.

2) Be active in the school. Let’s be honest, sometimes it is nice that our children go to school. That gives us seven solid hours of uninterrupted time to get stuff done! I’m almost a decade behind, so this is long overdue. However, that’s a lot of time that my kids are under the supervision of other people, many who I have never met before that first day of Kindergarten. While I know that most teachers are amazing people, it’s nice to see it for oneself. Volunteering in my child’s school gives me the opportunity to invest in them and their peers. It hopefully, is helpful for the teachers and it gives me a chance to get to know the people that are in their lives. There is nothing like chaperoning a field trip with forty first graders to help you realize that teachers should have higher salaries. If volunteering in the classroom is not viable, perhaps helping coach an after school sport, or volunteering at special school events can help you get involved.

3) Don’t waste time with technology. Sometimes, when we all get home, we want to collapse. School and work can be draining, especially for a family of introverts. The TV, kindle, and phone are easy ways to check out. I hope we don’t. We only have a few hours after school and even fewer when ALL of us are together. Yes, take time to “veg”, but don’t waste all these precious hours - get outside, read together, play a game, cook dinner together. I am a firm believer that investing now, pays big dividends later. If that doesn’t prove true in my relationships with my children, hopefully I’ll have stored up enough heart warming memories to get me through those pesky teenage years that I keep hearing about.

4) Plan ahead. This one is a challenge for me. Honestly, these past few years as a SAHM, I might have become somewhat of a lazy bum. Now, cut me some slack, I didn’t lay around eating bon bons, and watching soap operas, but I certainly didn’t have to be incredibly disciplined in order to get food on the table most nights. I often had ALL DAY to do it, and as a know procrastinator, why rush, right? Well, now I can’t do that. I need to have a plan. I don’t want to spend the after school hours doing chores. So, whether it is making a crockpot meal, cutting back on evening commitments, or working together so there is more time for fun, make a plan to make the most of the time you are given.

5) Don’t over-commit. School is hard work for many children. There are voices that will tell us to get our kids involved in this sport or that after school activity, I would encourage you to thoughtfully consider what is best for your child. Some children can do it all, just like some adults seem to be able to handle a multitude of obligations, but some do not. Some kids need the opportunity to unwind, have free play, or spend unstructured time outdoors. Yes, encourage your children in their interests, but be a mindful parent and help them understand their limits. The overwhelmed child, and parent, do not help make the school year successful.

Setting ourselves up for a successful year, will take intentionality. The time we have together is limited, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make the very best of it. What can you do this year, to help make the time you have with your family meaningful and relationship building?

by Kudoso Kontributor, Jesica Swanson