Back to School: Before School Jitters

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By Angela

Parents who have a child who deals with Before School Jitters, doesn’t have to ask themselves twice if this describes them. They know. Every child has some jitters before school or activities every so often. But if you have a child who deals with them daily or regularly- you know the struggle. You wonder how I know? I had a child like that. And I was a child like that. Just ask my Mom:) I cried before school and sometimes during the school day in Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 4th Grade (WAS THE WORST), 6th Grade, on and off from 7- 8th because come on who doesn’t have some issues in Jr High. And then again my Senior Year. I might be most embarrassed about that one! Before School Jitters is tough on the child and also tough on the parent.

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Don’t let that smile fool you. The tears were coming 🙂

There isn’t one thing that is a fix all solution. But I hope a few suggestions will bring some peace and comfort.

1. Prayer-

Fear, nerves and worry are real and can get carried away really fast. It is hard on the parent to watch your child suffer and to know how to help, so pray that God will give you wisdom and discernment to know just what is happening in your child’s mind and situation that is causing the fear. Pray for compassion and patience to have a listening ear and understanding attitude. Giving that gift of understanding and being heard will do a long way in the influence you will have.  It usually doesn’t end well to just get frustrated at the fearful child and tell them to get over it and buck up. Just saying!

Pray with you child, in the moment of fear. But also in a daily routine. At breakfast for the day. In the car on the way to school. Modeling through prayer the dependence we can have on God is a wonderful example. Prayer won’t necessarily take a fearful feeling away immediately. You can explain that to your child and continue to daily and regularly pray together asking God to grow and strengthen. Life lessons are hard to learn and your child is never to early to begin to learn them.

2. Memorize/ Utilize Scripture-

God’s word is truth. Use it to bring truth into the fearful feelings. Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is any worthy of praise, think about these things”. 

Memorize verse together. Kids are great at memorizing. Begin to memorize ones that will help them to think on truth. A few great ones. Joshua 1:9, Psalm 3:3 (many to find in the Psalms), Isaiah 41:13 “I the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you”. Little children especially know what it is like to hold a hand of someone that is in charge and protecting them. John 14:1, Colossians 1:17. These are just a few.

Explain to your child about the weapons we have to fight these fears. Ephesians 6:10-18 gives a wonderful description of the armor of God. As your children get dressed, remind them to all “put on their armor”. Talk through the pieces. Put up a picture of a Roman Soldier with the pieces of the armor in their room for a visual reminder.

Read through the Jesus Calling 365 Devotional for Kids. This is a sweet version of the adult one, which by the way, in my adult worry and fear struggles has brought relief, growth and a fresh perspective on Jesus’s lavish love for me.

3. Talk about the jitters at a different time-

Don’t leave it to the morning to talk about the jitters. Talk about what bothers your child at a different time. Explain how the school drop off will work. Explain who will pick them up and where. Explain what time school will be done and how to tell what time it is. Let the child offer suggestions. Take the time then ask them what about school is bother them. Role play at home if your child is younger. They learn by playing. Play school, act out some getting ready for school scenarios. Let them practice what they might say or do in the safety of your house.

4. Let the child wear a bracelet or pin something to their backpack to remind them of home-

I wore a mouse pin to school. My Mom encouraged me to look at when I felt like crying and be reminded that I would be coming home soon. As I got older, my Mom reminded me that, “Crying was best to do at home. I didn’t need to cry at school. Once I got home again if I needed to cry, then that is where I could do that.” Most of the time I didn’t need to cry once I got home. Praise your child with lots of encouragement and hugs at the process of small and big victories.

Talk to the teacher. Privately and with respect to your child. It might embarrass them that there feelings are wrong in feeling scared. I would word it a bit like this. “Tommy has been feeling nervous about school. We are working with him at home and wanted you to be aware. Would you be willing to reassure him? Please let me know out of ear shot of Tommy if you have some suggestion that I can work with him on my end. We know it will help by working on it together.”  As you child gets older. Tell your child you are going to talk to the teacher and what you are doing to say.

5. Find a Counselor-

If jitters continue or get worse- find a Christian Counselor who work with children. Focus on the Family  have counselors you can call and talk to and then will refer you to recommended counselors in your local area. My parents found a counselor for me to talk to as a child and it was helpful. It brought some greater clarity for my parents and brought some peace to the battle of the fear and worry.

 

Be cautious of shielding your child from anything/everything new. The only way for your child to grow in this area is to do some practicing. AND THAT CAN BE SOOO HARD TO WATCH. My husband and I prayed and explored many times through the process with our child. We really wondered if we should home school. And although we did end up doing that eventually, our child had made some great strides in this area by then. If we had taken them out of the process of learning to early, it would of enabled instead of finding growth.

Email us or comment to share your stories and tips. There are no two stories exactly the same. We would feel honored to problem solve with you to help eliminate fears and bring more confidence to your child’s school experience!

 

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Back to School: Mom Check Part 2

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We tackled the hard heart check of the frustrating “mom- yelling” in Part 1. Now that that is behind us, let’s talk about a few more things that will be a help to you, Mom! You have a big job/role. So is being a mom a job or a role? It can be tricky to define between the two. There are lots of “jobs” within the mom role I would say. Chef, Nurse, Chauffeur, Teacher, (especially if you are a home school Mom), maid, etc. You get the idea. You moms know just what I am talking about. For the sake of this post, let’s call your mom title- your job. It’s a very important job, right? Can you agree it is ranked up pretty high? Even if you have a job outside the home, or you work from home, the mom job takes a lot of time, attention and money! So lets look at some “job” principles and see how they apply.

1. Get Ready-

My first job was at a grocery store. I got ready in my uniform and when I walked into the store I was ready to clock in.  I didn’t go straight from bed to my job and get upset at the customers who came through my grocery check out line if they interrupted me as I did my hair and got my make up on. Yet, I hear this from moms- “I don’t have enough time to get ready in the day”, “my kids are constantly interrupting me”, and my favorite, “I have not showered in days”. Really? I want to ask? Or are you exaggerating a bit? I get it might feel like days though!

So my challenge- get ready daily for this important job. Find some super cute practical clothes that will fit your mom job uniform. Cute jeans, t-shirts, leggings and maxi skirts, (Lularoe have some GREAT options) some alternatives to daily yoga pants and a free tshirts. Find some quick tips of doing a Quick Makeup, (this Maskcara is one of our  favorites) and find some cute hair styles that you can do! Get that long overdue haircut if you need to.

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Don’t buy into the lie that you don’t have time. You will just plain feel better if you are up and ready for your day for your job. (If your kids get up at a ridiculously early time- email/msg us and we can help you walk through some ideas for that- because that is a WHOLE post in itself).

2. Schedule Your Day-

You get to be the boss. You really are, even if you think your kids feel they are the boss. Schedule your day. Write it out on a calendar if you LIKE to do that. Write a daily list. Set some “office hours”. Schedule in the things you don’t love doing- every job has an aspect of those areas.  Schedule work days and some days off. I had to schedule in days I needed off at the grocery store I worked at. I understood the day off policy. I didn’t fight it. I didn’t work more days than the other grocery checkers to prove to them I was better. I didn’t wait until someone noticed I needed or deserved a day off. I asked for the time I needed because I regularly reviewed my schedule and calendar.

Don’t confuse the regular day in and day out schedule of a mom that can feel mundane at times to the need to schedule your days, weeks, months and year. Also what works at one stage of life might need to be adjusted to the next stage. Or things you thought you would do before you had children MAY need to be realistically adjusted once you start having children with personalities. Prayerfully and specifically ask God to help you schedule your days. Pray for a time to review this with your husband. Schedule times to sit down regularly with both of your calendars to review together.  And adapt an attitude of flexibility. If ever you have had a job where you scheduled multiple pieces you know how important it is to be flexible.IMG_20140604_132954

4. Train/ Problem Solve-

When I started my job as grocery store checker I went to a week training. Plus had further on the job training. Because you are the boss, you are in charge of your training. You can’t be too hard on yourself if you are facing a new challenge in your mom job that you didn’t expect. You do some training or you problem solve with other employees in similar jobs. Don’t just google. That can come up with some scary results!

I used Focus on the Family for training. There podcast offers valuable information and it is easier than ever before to use as they have an app for your phone. Apart of their ministry is a movie review called Plugged In. SOOO helpful for the whole family.

I also read lots of books. I know you might feel like you don’t have a lot of time to read books. There are lots on audio these days. And remember you are the boss. If your job requires training you can schedule that in. I have never heard a mom tell me she doesn’t have time to watch this weeks episode of the Bachelor. Tell your time where you need it to go.  Laura and I have mentioned several good books in our previous posts. Again, email us if you need a suggestion on a certain area and we will help you find some training in the form of a book.20150729_202908

Find an older mom friend who is in a stage ahead of you with kids that you like or a mom that has kids your kids age that obeyed her happily when asked. Ask that mom questions.  See if you can meet up for coffee, a nice break for both of you, and interview her. Don’t compare yourself. Don’t aim to be her. Take some things she has used and tweak them into your home and family. 

5. Set Some Realistic Review Dates-

Companies regularly review new things they try. They incorporate strategies and then review those strategies.  How are your reviews? Do you try something new and if it doesn’t work in a day you come to conclusions that it won’t work? Or do you do the same things over and over without making necessary tweaks? Times to regularly review things in your mom job will keep you growing, evaluating and knowing what to specifically work on. Remember to keep in mind that what works at one stage might not work in the next.  You mom job is more like a marathon then a sprint.

What are some things to review? Obedience, sleeping patterns, flow of day, balance of responsibilities, sibling strife.

You can’t clock out of your mom job. Your “job” comes home with you. And follows you around some days.  An analogy isn’t a perfect comparison. But I hope a few of the principles shared can offer some fresh perspective. I can’t help but think about the promise of Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are NEW EVERY MORNING (emphasis mine); great is His faithfulness.” His mercies are new every morning for you! We are proud of you and with you, mom. We have gone before you and in the trenches with you. Can you hear us cheering you on?

We love you,

Angela and Laura

 

 

 

 

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Back to School: Mom Check Part 1

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by Angela and Laura

The pictures are coming. You know the ones on your news feed. The cute kids lined up by the front door. Boys in polo shirt uniforms. Girls in dresses and Mary Jane style shoes. Some are holding signs. Most will be wearing backpacks and a few are holding lunch boxes. It’s almost time for the First Day of School Pictures!

Some Moms will be teary and telling us how OLD their 1st and 3rd graders are. (Cue eye roll for every Mom who has a teenager entering their senior year in high school). Other Moms are seen dancing and jumping and cheering that they survived summer and are celebrating this glorious day. What side of the mom camp do you land in?

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Little Laura is second from the right on her first day of second grade.

What does back to school mean for Mom? Sadly it isn’t a new back to school wardrobe!! That is sad.  For some it means some extra kid free hours where the floors stay clean for 5 hours straight.  It means running some errands ALL. BY. YOURSELF.  It might mean a new school year starting for you Homeschool Moms. Maybe some new curriculum to figure out. Some mixed emotions about tackling some areas that were a struggle last year.  It means juggling your daily activities with school again.  It also means back to school lunch packing. It means getting out of the house on time for carpool or a bus schedule.  And homework hours between 3-5pm and soccer practice and dinner and more homework up until bedtime.

Are any Moms feeling a bit concerned about the dreaded morning rush? A snap shot memory of being “that yelling Mom” who drops off the kids and then slumps in the front seat of the mini van feeling like a failure again? Excited to put a new routine into place, but worried it might not last a week? Ready to start homeschooling, yet your kids didn’t get the cooperate memo?

Laura and I want to encourage you Mama! We want you to look back on this school year as the most delightful one yet. No matter where you are in the back to school Mom spectrum. We want to remind you that you are enough. Life is full, but that is different than crazy busy.

You are an integral part of the family Mom. But be sure to keep in perspective that life doesn’t rise and fall solely on you. God will guide your Mama heart! You can set the tone of your home. You are wired to do exactly that. Laura shared in her Morning Routine Post that she has a sign on her desk that says, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection”. Be graceful to yourself so you can share that grace with others.

Have a “No Yelling” policy 

First, I, Laura, am a recovering Mom Yeller.  Just so that you know that I am speaking from the been there.  

I had to check myself on early in my parenting journey about my yelling. I was horrified that I could ever do something like that.  But, looking back on how I handled the terrible two’s and three’s and even some now, there was a commonality in those situations that pushed me over the edge. These are not a list of excuses, they are helps understanding root issues so that root can be worked on.  

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1. I allowed my poor management to become their burden.  

When I chose not to wake up on time to be out the door and they were having a difficult time dressing under pressure-that was partially my fault.  When I chose not to create a loving environment and made their morning into a race track dictatorship-that’s my fault.  When I didn’t have enough sleep, enough reprieve, enough food-mostly that was on me to fix.  A mom who is overwhelmed will sometimes crush others in order to achieve her results or another option is she will give up all together and begin to stop existing for her children.   

2. I let disobedience build up.   

I was willing to be shocked at their behavior instead of correct it, willing to let it slide this time rather than stop it on the spot, willing to give countless warnings instead of immediate consequences.  I’m not talking about harsh directives, but firm guidance.  

This only hurt me, made my blood pressure go up, and increased their defiance.  Once they were pressed to comply they acted more out because they knew I might bend and then it became a game of who could outlast who.  Then the yelling mama, came in, and brought tears to eyes, shame all around, and damaged the spirit of the child and defeated the spirit of that mom.  Believe me, I know.  

I recently read an article about Mom’s who yell.  The article patted the mom on the hand, told them not to worry and to drink some more wine.  I wondered when the article would ask that mom to commit to whatever it took to strip herself of the Mom Yelling title, and begin new with her children.  I wondered when that mom would stop crying about her tendency to scream and start seeking solutions.  

For me, I waged war on my reflex to yell under pressure.  I confiding in my dearest friends and asked them to be be honest with me and ask me the tough questions.  I read a few books on parenting that helped me know what to say and do when I didn’t have the words.  

Here are a few titles that I recommend very highly to parents.  

Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Have a new Kid by Friday 

Give them Grace

3. I let Preventative Boundaries slide.

I, Angela, felt most frustrated and most vulnerable to start yelling when the everyday tasks began to get away from us. I wrote about ways of keeping some order, age appropriate boundaries and some verbiage to help communicate to your kids what is expected next. Putting these things into practice kept my tone calm and my kids knew and understood what was expected.  Read it here.

4.  I was at the end of myself. 

I, Laura, have had those mornings of sheer exhaustion, days of depression, anger at unfairness, lack of interest in good things around me, and I still had little ones to care for during those times.  

I usually pushed through and did what I was supposed to that day.  I should have taken a few hours or a day NOT because I deserve it, but because I needed to make myself healthy enough to be a good and safe parent.  There are needs and there are wants.  When mom’s don’t have enough sleep, you don’t say, “you deserve more sleep”,  you say, “you NEED more sleep.” So mom’s don’t have to use the word deserve on their needs.  They can just explain to their husbands or their good friends, or a counselor that their needs aren’t being met.  Maybe on Saturday mornings you ask for a sleep in morning from your husband.  You don’t “deserve a night out”, you need some time to develop friendships and not stay in a bubble in your house.  Friendship is a need.  

Take a look at how angry, disappointed, or sad you become when you think of your unmet needs.  I sometimes acted out against the innocent for those feelings.  Do some thinking, and decide how you can help fill in those needs.  

Another thing I should have done was called in the friend SWAT team on the really bad days.  When I needed accountability, needed a friend to say, “we’re not cooking or cleaning today, we are going to talk quietly while the kids play around us and eat Chick Fil A for lunch.”   

My friend reading this, if you need sleep, if you need a break, if you are totally overwhelmed, there is help everywhere.  If you don’t have an understanding husband or your Parenting SWAT team, you can even private message us on Facebook , or email if you need confidential assistance and ideas.

So today’s mom check was heavy huh?  Tomorrow we’ll continue this conversation.  So go hug your babies and determine to start working on reducing the yell.  

Remember, “Grace not perfection”. Doing the hard thing now, will bring the easier later. The fruit of your hard work to stop the yelling will come.

We love you,

Angela and Laura 

 

 

 

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Back to School: Night Before Preparations

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by Laura

Welcome to our month long Back to School Series!  Angela and I are thrilled to prepare some back to school helps and thoughts as you are navigating your schedule this fall.  Today, we are talking about the night before a school day, every school day in fact.  These three small things to do before the alarm goes off the next morning will go so far, toward your peace of mind and your children’s too.    

Here’s some things to do the night before. 

 1. Pick out kid clothes

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I’m sure you’ve never had an argument about clothing while trying to get somewhere on time before, right?

Sometimes I would choose the kids clothes by forcing these awful flesh covering items onto their bodies with mixed reviews just so we could get out the door.  In the morning I don’t have much time to discuss options, no time to wash and dry last minute, but I can take some time to do it the night before.  My children still get the option to choose, I just let the kids choose THE NIGHT BEFORE.  This habit can easily be worked into their time getting into their pajamas.  It takes a few weeks to create a habit, so help them understand the process.  Make it fun, and offer a big hug or fist pound when they are done.  

Pick out the top, the bottom, even grab underclothes and socks.  Choose a place to set out their clothes.  Most reasonably where they get dressed.  Maybe at the foot of the bed, a cubby in the closet, a hanger, or a hook in the bathroom.  I like to avoid putting the clothes in my kids closets because they get distracted by all the clothes they don’t get to wear.  So we usually shut the door to the closet and hang them on a different hook.  

Get ready for a proud kid who is able to get dressed quickly the next day.  

2. Make Lunches

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I think this step is a must.  When I come downstairs in the morning, my kitchen is supposed to be ready for action.  Counters totally clear, dishwasher clean, but there are some days when it’s just not like that.  So in the midst of getting breakfast on the table and making lunch who knows if you have washed the knife you need to cut fruit and veggies, or if the cutting board is clean, or if there is enough counter space.  Skip the morning lunch making.  

In the midst of dinner time the night before, when your body and mind are in the right mode and location, take some time and pack lunches.  It might be the three minutes the microwavable peas are cooking, or the 20 minutes the fish sticks are baking, or it could be while the kids are loading the dishwasher afterward and you are training them while you make lunches.  You could even enlist one kid/night to help you pack up lunches.  

For me, it’s helpful to have some lunch ideas while I’m meal planning for the week.  I have something similar to this taped inside my pantry.  

You could have a list of the very same thing each week or every two weeks the entire school year.  Monday: Turkey and Cheese.  Tuesday: PB&J.  Wednesday: Cheese, Crackers and Meat.  Thursday: Tuna Roll Up.  Friday: Chicken Strips.  Think of things your kids love, and could eat that often.  Plan out the sides that go to each day and post that inside a cupboard.  

Imagine having 10 lunch meals totally thought out for the entire year and you would never have to think about what to pack a single day!!!!!!!!!

Tape this inside your kitchen cupboard or pantry so that you can glance at it and not have to think about what to pack the entire school year.  

Finally, the night before a school day…

3. Get backpacks and coats to the exit

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As a part of their night time routine have them check to make sure all homework is done and in the backpack, any thing they might need for the next day gets in there, (gym clothes, a jacket, show and tell items, permission slip).  This will help them fall asleep knowing everything is where it needs to be so they needn’t go to bed with worry.  

If you don’t have a good place for back packs, these Command Hooks look great, and attach to doors or walls.  You could put them on the door/wall near your garage, or the door/wall near your front entry.  

There you have it!  

Three things to trade places with your morning, and move to your night.  Doesn’t take any more or less time, just takes a different time of day.  

As you take some of the pressures of morning away, you’ll find that you might be able to sit down with them for breakfast instead of slapping together lunches.  You might have time to read them a book instead of discussing why that shirt and those shorts don’t go together.  You might be on time and out the door instead of doing a homework scavenger hunt, allowing plenty of time to drive safely. 

We hope that your blood pressure and your kids’ morning’s benefit from these ideas and get ready for a month of great Back to School Posts!  

 

 

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