At the end of the summer, I’m always really bummed to let go of the “un-structure.” I love not having the pressure of helping with homework, packing lunches, managing morning carpool, ensuring that backpacks are pre-packed before going to bed, and juggling endless after school activities.
But ready or not, school is back in session in less than two weeks for us. And as I stare at the inevitable, I made some resolutions for the year ahead. Maybe if I say focused, we will have the best school year ever. My list is now on my refrigerator door so I am continually reminded of my goals. Here they are:
1. I will cook dinner and we will eat together
The dinner table is a critical component in raising healthy kids. This summer, I’ve failed miserably. In fact, if I’m not hungry, I forget that I should feed them at all. But once school starts, I am re-committing to cooking dinner several nights per week and eating together.
2. I will cook good food
I will refrain from buying frozen burritos or canned soups, heating them up, and calling it dinner. I am actually a very good cook and I love doing it. Cooking many of my staple meals takes very little time and they are healthy, inexpensive and delicious. With that in mind, I will cook three to four nights a week. In fact, now that I think about it, I will invite and encourage my daughters to pitch in and cook with me. It’s fun, interactive, they will learn a new skill, and why should I be the only one having all the fun?
3. I will re-institute Mommy-Daughter Dates
Last school year, we had one-on-one Mommy-Daughter dates every week. Those dates were really important to them and they looked forward to it. They got to pick what they wanted to do on our dates and usually they were simple, like taking a bike ride, walk, or going out for frozen yogurt. I can’t wait to start doing it again.
4. I will review homework projects with them often
Not every mom monitors or helps with their children’s homework assignments but I do. Instead of letting a few days slip away and then realizing that there is a lot of catch-up work to do, I’ll spend time with them most days chatting about school and upcoming projects and where (if at all) I’m needed to help. It will help them stay organized and focused and will help me know when they need extra help or tutoring before it’s too late.
5. I will tuck my children into bed at night
No matter how old my children get, they still love it when I spend time with them before they go to sleep. With my nine year old daughter, I lie in bed with her, we snuggle up, and I read to her. Currently, we’re almost finished with The Secret Garden. For my 14 year old daughter, I often sit in the bathroom with her while she takes a bath. While I paint my toe nails or wash and moisturize my face, we talk– usually about boys or friends. These are important bonding opportunities and especially as they get older, the more I’m in-tune with their world, the better.
6. I will (heavily) monitor their cell phone usage
I’ve already warned my teen that once school starts, she will turn her phone in 30 minutes after she gets home and she won’t get it back until the next morning. Too many times last year, she spent hours on her phone when homework assignments and studying went right out the window. She crammed for projects at the last minute and brought home her first C. All of this was totally unnecessary but that damned cell phone was a very unwelcome distraction.
As for my nine year old, she has a phone but I won’t let her have it at all during the school week. And her iPad is mine unless she’s sitting in front of me.
7. I will limit my own cell phone use when my girls are home
I will limit the time I spend texting, checking for texts or emails, or answering the phone. They hate it when I interrupt our conversations to pick up my phone. I really need to work on this one.
8. I will allow school lunches once per week and encourage them to make their own lunches on the other days
I will allow my daughters to buy those horrid school lunches just once a week. On the rest of the days, they need to start packing their own lunches.
9. I will be strict about chores
Both of my daughters have a very small list of chores they are supposed to do each week in order to get their allowances on Sundays. The problem is, I pay out whether or not they do any of it. This year, I need to do far better with the whole “work for pay” concept. Otherwise, I’m not teaching them anything good.
10. I will stop cleaning their bedrooms, putting their laundry away, and selecting their clothes for the next day
I know, I know, I’m a total control freak mom. I crave cleanliness and order. I need to let it go and start expecting them to take greater responsibility for their own lives.
Life is far from perfect and my ability to actually achieve the items on this list is really optimistic. But it is a starting point. Even partial success can make a huge difference.