Most moms start every summer with great expectations; memories to be made and experiences to be had. I am one of those moms. I plan, organize and put together schedules filled with long activity filled days, day trips to take, and vacations to enjoy. And yet, even with all this preparation, at the conclusion of summer, I feel like I missed some of the things I wanted to teach our kids. We never made it to a few of the places I wanted to go. I didn’t teach them some of the things I wanted them to learn. In all honesty, we never even opened the educational books this summer (it happens) The time escapes and every year during that last week I think: how is it even possible that another summer has come and gone?
The school year it’s longer, but somehow the chaotic schedules, homework and projects make days and weeks merge together don’t they? Once our kids start school there is no pause button; and we don’t get any real time-outs to strategize. Our kids are constantly learning, and honestly, the older they get the more I feel it in my spirit: I don’t always like what they are being taught.
And the reality is, they will spend more time in a classroom then they will at home from here forward. They will see their teachers, coaches and friends for more hours in the day then they will me. It will forever be a battle of influence; and with less hours as parents we must know how to be the most effective.
As I consider what my kids face every day with their peers, what they learn in the halls, the lunchroom, and at recess I am certain that what I teach them in the home will only have impact if they see it in the home. If I teach them with my mouth, they may listen. But if I live it with my life, if it is a part of the ins and outs of my everyday it will leave a lasting impression.
It’s late in the evening and my soul is restless. The house is asleep and in the quiet I reflect on the upcoming year and ask myself the hard questions: what kind of impression am I leaving on my kids? It’s something as a mom/dad we should evaluate regularly. How can I be more intentional to practice and demonstrate the lessons I want my kids to learn outside the classroom?
When you ride a bike you move forward in the direction you are looking; the bike goes wherever the handle bars are pointed. We must consistently evaluate which direction we are looking, and secondly where the “handle bars” in our household are pointed. So I made this list, you know to be more intentional (or something like that) and called it “before you get on the bus.” And I listed some things I want to be more intentional about teaching my kids this school year: overcoming mean kids with kindness (Romans 12:21), hiding God’s word in our heart (Ps 119:11), and putting others before yourself (Phil 2:3).
But then, in an unexpected and unusual twist, I found out on open house night that my kids will no longer be riding the bus. The bus route that had been in effect for several years was changing with a new pickup time of 45 minutes earlier each morning for our subdivision. I nearly cried (really, truly, I hate mornings). I had a little pity party about this new inconvenience; about that the tragedy of having to actually drive my kids to school each morning. While I was having my pity party I emailed a good friend who loved carpooling her kids more then any other parent in the universe (I mean, really, who actually loves carpools and brags about such.) Her reply was like a splash of cold water in the face; she suggested instead of whining I use that time to have my third grader read a quick devotional to us and pray with the kids to prepare them for the battlefield each morning.
You see, last year we started morning devotionals with our kids during breakfast. But we had mornings where we were rushed, highly distracted, or eating a pop tart with one hand and tying shoes with the other. It didn’t always go as planned; typical reality of parenting-- things don’t always go as planned. We have good intentions but we don’t always have good results do we? But the cool thing about car rides-- the time in the car is guaranteed (no amount of speeding will make it much faster, trust me, I’ve tried!)
I was going to write this blog with high end ideas about how I planned to be more intentional, but our little transportation change reminded me that sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. So my challenge to all my fellow parents is: how can you use car time to pour into your kids? If you don’t drive to school, what about drives to the ball field, dance, band or day care pickup?
Every day we are allotted the same amount of minutes, 1440 to be exact; if you’re home is anything like mine, those minutes seem to get shorter as they get older-- use them wisely.