Creative Child

Boundaries and Balance:
 Taking Control of the School Year so It Doesn’t Control You

by Rebecca Eanes

School is back in session and that means the daily grind is starting up again. Carpools, homework, projects, practices, rehearsals, chores, work – I get tired just thinking about it! I’ve learned that if I don’t quickly take the reins and set routines and boundaries, I’ll be overwhelmed by September and playing catch-up for the rest of the school year. Here are my strategies for balancing a busy schedule while finding joy and creating connection along the way.

Organize everything the night before. We all know that starting off the morning in a frantic scramble leads to frustration and a bad start to the day, so I like to try to prevent as much of that chaos as I can by getting organized the night before. If your children are little, visual charts are very helpful for teaching them the necessary steps, such as laying out an outfit, packing lunch, gathering whatever is needed for the next day’s school and activities, brushing teeth, gathering shoes, bathing, and all of the habits you want to instill. Older kids can do well with a checklist until they get the routine down. This cuts out “I don’t know what to wear” and “I can’t find my shoes!” When it’s already in order and ready to go, you’re more likely to sail the morning with ease.

Set three connection points. Life can get pretty hectic once the school year gets rolling, and it’s easy to lose connection with our kids. When that happens, though, things go downhill quickly. They may start acting out, having tantrums and emotional outbursts, and become less cooperative when they feel disconnected, so it’s good to be intentional about setting three connection points each day to love on your kids and check in with them emotionally. I recommend first thing in the morning, right after school, and again before bed. Show affection, say something affirming, listen, and give your full attention for at least a few minutes at each connection point. It’s a great way to thwart behavior problems and stay close to your kids through the busyness.

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