Forget Jan. 1. Parents know the real new year begins when you can smell the fresh pink erasers and hear the clatter of brand new pencils on still-smooth notebook covers.
Even if you don’t have kids in school, the end of summer and the beginning of fall is a great time to reassess, realign, hit the restart button and make resolutions that will help carry your family smoothly through until next summer – or at least until the holidays.
Here are some tips from parents about resolutions they’ve made for the coming school year:
My Life and Kids blogger Anna Luther said she used to hate mornings.
“It was a disaster,” she said. “There was a lot of yelling, a lot of missing socks, a lot of arguments about eating a good breakfast – it was just not the way to start a productive, happy day.”
Luther decided to turn the first – and worst – hour of her day into one of the best by waking up earlier, exercising and turning on music.
Luther also changed the way she looked at breakfast.
“It doesn’t have to be from scratch,” she said, “but it does have to have protein – and be fast. We love frozen breakfast burritos, for example.”
Empower the kids
Luther said that another thing that made mornings exhausting was that she tried to do everything herself, from finding socks and brushing hair to heating up healthy breakfasts.
But kids are eager to help, she said. Just like adults, they feel empowered when they can do things for themselves.
Luther decided to empower her kids and simplify her life at the same time by creating “Get Ready Buckets,” which hold everything they need to get moving in the morning, from hairbrushes to socks.
That same message of empowerment can simplify and improve other stressful times of day. Do the kids walk in the door hungry and cranky and leave you feeling the same way? Stock the freezer with hearty snacks, such as El Monterey Taquitos, that kids can heat up on their own.
Blogger Kristyn Merkley of Lil’ Luna, has resolved to show the teachers in her life how much she and her family appreciate them.
“Our teachers put so much time and effort into their jobs,” Merkley said, “and we’re so grateful for that.”
While she usually gives teachers a gift card at the end of the year, she doesn’t wait until then to send notes and emails with a simple, “Thank you.” She also makes sure to say thanks in person – and in front of her kids.
Make fun a priority
There are plenty of must-dos on your list every day, but is fun one of them? Merkley said it should be, and she’s making family fun a resolution this school year. She collects activities on her blog that kids and adults can do together and plans family fun nights around them.
“When we laugh and make things and learn things together,” she said, “we’re making memories. I want my kids to remember their childhoods as more than just getting to school on time and cleaning their rooms.”
Be a team
Kristy Denney, of the Boys Ahoy blog, is raising three wild boys, as she calls them. But even the wildest of kids wants to know that you’re on their team – and they’re on yours. Denney and her husband, Brett, chose a family motto for the school year so that everyone on their family team knows what they’re working toward.
As their motto, the Denneys chose, “Work hard and be nice.” It’s simple, succinct and sums up what they want for their family.
Fuel up with real food
Kids have to eat, and most insist on eating three or more times a day. Denney said she loves to cook from scratch, but she doesn’t want time in the kitchen to keep her away from her family. So, this year, she’s resolving to focus on what’s important: real ingredients.
“Sometimes I’ll buy the ingredients myself to cook from scratch and sometimes I’ll look for foods I recognize on the label,” she said. “When I pick up El Monterey Signature Burritos, I see ingredients like fresh-baked tortillas, real cheddar cheese – foods I would buy anyway for my family, so I feel great about that.”
Make snacks work hard
Jess Kielman, who writes the blog Mom 4 Real, said that snacking can sometimes be a problem in her house. Kids (and adults) sometimes snack because they’re bored – or just out of habit, so she’s reining in snack time and making snacks work just as hard as meals.
“Protein and real food – that’s what I’m going to look for in afternoon snacks,” she said. “Something that fills the kids up and gets them ready to get back out the door and play, or buckle down and do their homework.”
Cheer on #momwins
Kielman said that this year her resolution is to start giving herself a little more credit for her “mom wins,” big or small.
“Checking off every last thing on my spring cleaning checklist is a win, for sure,” she said, “but so is a good, smooth morning with my family. So is a sit-down dinner that didn’t stress me out. So is feeling good about what we’re eating. So is every little hug. Those are all #momwins, and I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for every one.”