Hey there, dear one.
How’s your summer going? I hope you’ve been loving these months and enjoying some time to rest, make new memories, and eat all the fresh watermelon.
I sound like a broken record every August, but it’s tough to believe another school year is right around the corner. Usually, I’m raring to get back into a routine at this point in the summer—but this year feels a bit more bittersweet. My kiddos are in that “sweet spot” of early elementary years, and we’ve enjoyed every moment of these hazy, lazy summer days.
Alas, time moves on—and lately, I’m focused on preparing my children for their imminent return to school. If you’re in the same boat, I’m guessing that’s been on your mind, too.
We learned early on in our autism journey with Isaiah that transitions matter! And there’s a reason the most painful part of labor and delivery is called transition.
Switching gears is tough.
For adults, for kiddos, for everyone. So this month, I wanted to share three simple, practical steps we’re taking to help prepare our children for their best start possible—and I pray these will help you, too, as you guide the children or grandchildren in your life back to the routine of school!
1. Begin the bedtime routine early
If your summer has been anything like ours, every night has been movie night—and most often, a double header! Our kiddos have been living their best lives by staying up late, sleeping in, and eating all the popcorn.
As an adult, it’s tough to transition from late nights and lazy mornings to early mornings full of rush and routine—even more so for our kiddos! In light of this truth, experts recommend slowly transitioning children back into a schedule a week or two before the year’s new start.
So about two weeks before school starts, we begin slowly weaning the kiddos off their diet of movies and popcorn and gradually returning to a typical weeknight bedtime and routine. We also start reducing screen time (cue the tears and tantrums at our house!) and around-the-clock snacking, so they’ll be able to survive the school day on their one scheduled snack (I know, it seems impossible, right?).
Additionally, we can support our kiddos by mentally preparing them as well. Given our son’s unique needs, we’re big fans of visual reminders (like a calendar we can use to count down), but all kiddos can benefit by clearly seeing what’s coming and when.
Talking through the logistics of what’s to come helps reduce anxiety and build confidence for them and us. And hopefully, many of those back-to-school growing pains will work themselves out before the first day arrives!
2. Plan a special family event
Marking the end of summer in a meaningful way creates happy, feel-good memories and helps prepare your child for the transition back to school. Plus, it’s just fun!
You can choose a day or a whole weekend—and no fancy, expensive things are required! Instead, choose something simple, like a picnic in your favorite spot, a day hike or family bike ride, or a family movie or game night with popcorn (can you tell this is our favorite snack?) and special treats. You could even do a backyard campout—something my children love to do.
As parents (and moms especially), we feel so much pressure to create big, memorable trips or parties—but your kids will remember how they felt far longer than they’ll remember the detailed, Pinterest-worthy snacks you spent hours making.
So this is your permission slip to take the pressure off and simply enjoy a unique, marked moment with your kiddos. If you need some creative ideas, check out this list of 100 ways to make memories. My kiddos are gunning for #79 :-).
3. Choose Scriptures to pray over your child for the year
Finally, the most powerful thing we can do for our children is to pray over them and cover them in the specific, powerful words of Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is alive and active.” So the promises of God’s Word may be ancient, but they are just as potent and powerful today as they’ve ever been!
And, we can pray with confidence, knowing that God hears our cries, as 1 Peter 3:12a reminds us, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers.”
When we pray, God hears—and mountains move!
If you’re like me, knowing where to begin and how to pray for our babies can feel daunting. The needs can feel overwhelming at times! But, over time, I’ve found that choosing an “anchor” Scripture for the year brings focus to my prayer life and a foundation I can always return to when praying for my kiddos.
If your children are older, you can get them involved! It’s an easy way to begin a dialogue about what they’re afraid of or excited or anxious about this upcoming school year. Then, together, you can search God’s Word and choose a verse or two to pray through together.
For our family, I’m focusing on praying the words of Colossians 3:15-17 over all of us this school year:
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NIV)
Maybe these are some great verses for your family this year, too! Who doesn’t desire more peace these days, right?
For more ideas and Scriptures, you can check out this post I wrote a few years ago, A Prayer for the New School Year. It’s full of specific promises you can pray over your babies as they walk into the new year.
Whatever you’re facing this fall, I want to leave you with the encouragement that God is greater.
He’s greater than your greatest trials and hardest struggles.
He’s bigger than the obstacles your children will face.
And He’s got us covered, dear one. So let’s agree to trust Him!