School is in full-swing, and fall is in the air with crisp morning air and football Saturdays. Time flies! In fact, fall break is just a short 3 weeks away. So, as the first interim reports are distributed at school, it’s been long enough to adjust yet we are still figuring things out.

The classroom procedures have been taught. Most kids have someone or something they like to play on the playground. And, we have learned that some of our children’s quirks. If you work in a school, you know that the first month is a whirlwind! Name tags, Open Houses, moving desks, cramming the day with new curriculum, and then also trying to get to know our kids. It’s busy! (for educators and parents!)

It can get so busy that we often forget to recognize the whispers. Sure, we hear the obvious. We hear the children tattling and whining. We hear the fighting. We see the test grades in red ink. We celebrate the goal they scored in the soccer game. Often, we only respond to the loudest and most glaring feedback as parents and educators while overlooking or not noticing quiet signs of growth. With both the good and the bad, it’s easy to overlook the whispers.

What do whispers look like and why do they matter? Well, this year I have met a tiny first grade boy who doesn’t speak….at all. He has not muttered a single word inside the school doors this year so far. In fact, until last week, we had never seen him move his lips or even attempt to communicate. He can and does speak at home but never at school. He’s a selective mute.

This is problematic for many reasons of course. He has to be able to communicate for safety and academic reasons, as well as with friends. So while he’s also slipped through this first part of school, this has become a personal goal of mine, to help this child find the courage to speak.

He’s had the opportunity for the past 3 weeks in my ‘friendship group’, yet hasn’t come around. He comes with 8 other children to my room once a week for 30 minutes. And, he’s my shining star for sitting quietly in his own space. Yet, he needs to be able to also participate in sharing with the group. So, last week before he came, I told him that I wanted his to mouth a couple of words because I knew he could do it (secretly I wasn’t sure he would but I told him I expected him to). The children in this group are working towards a minimum of 5 good choices in which I give them immediate feedback with a check on their paper. If they earn 5 or more ‘checks’, they may play for 2-3 minutes at the end. This little boy hasn’t been able to play so far in the friendship group because he hadn’t made all the choices I needed him to, like trying to communicate. But, this week, I believed he could do, told him I knew he could, and by golly, he was the first student I called on to share how he was feeling.

He chose the happy card and mouthed ‘h-a-p-p-y’! I couldn’t hear his voice but he very clearly articulated the word. I was beyond excited! He was the first child to earn a ‘check’. You might be thinking, big deal? Yes, it was a big deal! He also mouthed, ‘thank you’ when I prompted him to again at the end of the group. A smile was included and that was his choice! It truly was the highlight of my day.

While thinking about my week this week, this moment kept coming back. Then, I also remembered when another student actually took her old school papers out of her folder at home, finally, and did her homework. And, then there was the boy who was so angry and could have easily escalated to fighting another boy yet chose to walk away with me to the hallway. And, another girl who has worked weeks to earn a ‘blue’ on her behavior chart and delivered a signed note from her teacher at Open House that she achieved it. Then, there was the time at dinner when my own son realized and articulated that he has been taking his anger out on me and he’s sorry. These are the whispers I am talking about.

In this society, we want to measure everything. People want to see the the numbers on the scale drop when getting in shape to show they are loosing weight. We want to see A’s on the report card. We wear our Fitbit to track our steps. Shoot, we even measure how effective our teachers supposedly are based on test scores. We measure, measure, measure and we want to see big change fast. 

But, I think we should also listen for the whispers, the little things that are immeasurable. I believe paying attention to the subtle, quiet moments matter just as much or MORE.

So whether it’s simply starting with mouth-ing the words or doing the right thing instead of the wrong, we should celebrate moments that aren’t so loud or that you cannot measure or grade. Even as adults, we need to pay attention to the whispers. Many times, those whispers are telling us a lot more than the noise but we have to listen and wait for them. We have to be paying attention. Subtle, quiet, and humble….good things are happening everywhere.

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

The Hamilton’s nightly dinner questions resumed this evening. We take turns picking a number at random. After “if you could be any animal, what would it be?” and “if you could choose another name for yourself, what would it be and why?”, we ended on a deep question:

 “What is God’s greatest creation?” 

Usually, this is when the boys opt out! (Bo always does!) Brody was first to speak tonight, though, and replied with “brain tumors”.

Hmmm? With 5th grade has come some sarcasm so we assumed he was being facetious. However, I asked him what he meant. He proceeded to tell us that having a brain tumor was really a gift. (I’m not making this up!)

He said it was fun getting all the gifts in the hospital and he also got a giant chocolate bunny on Easter. He said that it was actually “kind of fun.”

What I remember was anything but fun! And, I would call brain tumors the antithesis of a gift. Hospitals give me the creeps, and that was the hardest time of my entire life. So, a “gift”? That’s a bold statement.

Today, on a day that SO many friends came out to pay it forward at Duck Doughnuts, we are trying to help all pediatric brain tumor patients feel like their life is a gift.

Because life really is a gift. Just a few minutes ago while tucking in my warrior,  I asked him to tell me more about what he meant. (I promise this is what he said without promting and it blew me away!:)

It really is like a gift. (Why?, I asked.) It makes me unique and special. I’ve gone through something most people haven’t. And, I’ve gotten on the news and get to do special things. It’s a gift that I came out of it ok.

Now, either hes saying these things because he truly believes them (which astounds me) or hes saying this because he wants to think positively and wants to believe these things (which also astounds me). Either way, yes, thats a gift if you believe it. It’s just the way you choose to look at it.

Thank you, God, for your “greatest creation”.

One foot in front of the other

I was talking to a friend about stress yesterday, and am sitting here thinking about the stressed out kids I saw today. We all have stress but some just have more than others. It’s not fair. Life can be hard. And, sometimes we cannot simply fix the problem.

Band aids don’t work. And, tomorrow may feel the same.

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Whether it be our own child or our student, there are some problems that just cannot be solved. A child with cancer. A brain tumor. An abandoned child. A child removed from their home. An absent father. An abusive mother. These are real problems…that may not be fixed.

When we have these real curve balls, I told my friend that sometimes all you can do is put one in front of the other. Literally, and figuratively.

When we are hurting, we can only control so much. We might be sad, scared, disappointed, hurt, let-down, anxious, or angry. But, we CAN march on.

We can walk, moving away from our worries, knowing that we can control our actions. We can walk allowing our mind a minute to rest and focus on our movement. Sports, running, dancing, yoga, or just walking….we move forward.

Many and most days, I see children who can barely stay in their own skin. Sometimes the reality is painful and they can barely stand being. You see their skin crawling! 

When it feels like too much, when things are spinning, just walk. Move forward instead of staying stagnant.

One foot in front of the other. Fresh air. Move. Stretch. Breathe. One step at a time. Time will move on.

Namaste.

 

Get your beauty rest!

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It amazes me how sleep deprived our young children are. With some years of experience under my belt as a School Counselor, I began to realize that many problems in elementary age children could be prevented if children were simply getting enough rest. I-pads, phones, gaming systems, and t.v.’s are robbing our children of the recommended amount of shut-eye and we are seeing the effects in schools.

Anyone have a child who emotional, overly sensitive, irritable, or irrational when they get sleepy or hungry? They all are but they never realize it, of course! It’s true that some kids are more sensitive than others (and I know I must have my beauty rest and food or I’m a mess!). But, most children need the recommended 9-12 hours of sleep that they aren’t getting.

Yesterday, a school ‘friend’ who is actually a bit younger than my son was having a rough day. He’s 10 but has a teenage sister. He’s way more exposed to adult things than my son but also way more immature than him. He gets easily frustrated and makes foolish mistakes both in his academics and behavior. So, he asked to see me yesterday when he was needing a break and in “recovery”.

It was wise to ask for what he needs, rather than get in trouble, but I could tell he was on edge and struggling. And, I know him well so one of the first things I asked him was what time he went to sleep last night. -12 a.m.- He gets up at 6 a.m. to get ready for the bus. Now, I’m here to tell you that I’d be sleepy and angry with 6 hours of sleep, and I’m not 10. 6 hours of sleep!? He knew that 12 a.m. was late but he had NO idea that he only got 6 hours of sleep.

He laughed when I told him how much his body and brain needed to function at an optimal level (9-12 hours). No way was he going to sleep at 9 like my children because that’s when he comes inside, he said! Like many kids with older siblings, it’s hard to enforce different bed-times. But, this 10- year old is getting 5-8 hours of sleep a night. He plays on his phone after his dad has told him good night because he’s one of many kids I know who sleep with their devices.

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Sure, parents like his can say goodnight but that’s not stopping kids. Most children don’t have enough self-control to want to choose sleep over devices so we have to remove this temptation. It’s hard enough with the homework and practices in the evening. The older they get, the later they start practices (and I hate that)! So on the evenings when we are home, we have to enforce what’s best for them even if it’s not what they like. Just look online and you can find an abundance of research to support this theory that kids with devices aren’t getting as much sleep as their peers!

We need our sleep! Weight gain, attention, memory, self-regulation, and irritability can all be linked to sleep, and kids aren’t getting enough. So when in doubt, try giving your kid some healthy, real food and getting them to sleep a little earlier. Make it even easier by just not allowing devices and gaming during the week. Their brains have enough to think about as is! And, make sleep a priority.

 

“It is ok to say you’re welcome…”

 

Every year, I have an attention-grabber for school. Sometimes, I’ve found them online. And more often, I think of the most recent children’s movie hit and boom! I’ve got my attention-grabber for ‘guidance’ or leadership class!

Ready to rock? …….Ready to roll!

Who’s the one who likes to play?……….. Bing Bong! Bing Bong!

Just keep swimming…….just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!

And now, (drumroll!): It is ok to say……YOU’RE WELCOME!! Click here for the full, fun version from the movie, Moana! Better than yelling at them to be quiet, right!?

It’s even cooler when it also ties into the school theme like this year. PBIS is where it’s at across Knox County. This stands for “positive behavior interventions and support”. All schools in Knox county are moving towards implementing this. With tons of trainings, principals, teachers, and support staff have 4 fundamental standards or rules that are universal. Sounds fancy and important, right!? Well, it is….mostly.

  • Be safe.
  • Be kind.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be responsible.

Who can argue that these aren’t important principles to live by and expect out of our children? These are basically what we used to consider good manners. So, it’s good to know that these will be consistent throughout any class and area if implemented correctly, right!? Sure.

But, what I just find sad or strange about this rubric is that people, children and adults, should already be doing these things! Have people forgotten that nothing else works in the world, including school, if we don’t follow these tenants!?  We have to get the basics for societies to work. And, these character traits and manners are something that School Counselors have always taught anyway! Many of our comprehensive programs are centered around similar character traits so that’s another weird piece too! And, it’s what many, many teachers have always expected and led their students in doing.

We are now training lots and lots of principals, teachers, and support staff to have good manners and be nice. Honestly, that’s what it boils down to. Focus on reinforcing more positives than negatives. Use affective statements and point out how one’s behavior impacts others. And, reward good choices. That’s it in a nutshell as I see it. Now, there are some fancy bells and whistles but PBIS is genius because they are making money off of a program that’s really quite simple. 

So, parents, this isn’t something new. Like many concepts, programs, and curriculum, it’s rebranding. That’s ok , but it’s good to know that this alone cannot transform a school.  Now, the people who work in the school can. But, more importantly, our parents and society as a whole can and do impact the belief systems of our children. Children have to feel loved and they have to trust and respect in order to want comply and act nice. In order for PBIS to work, we have to also have adults living these same rules, and there in lies the problem!

We have been so busy rushing to cram new curriculum down their throats that we have lost time for the most simple and most important values and lessons in life. There’s no downtime in school and even many teachers resist scheduling a ‘guidance’ (leadership) class or taking a brain-break because they’re rushing to stay on track. What happened to the good ole-days when your teacher turned off the lights and everyone put heads down to take a break and calm people down!? We don’t have time.

Or, do we? We have to take time for kindness. Having a black and white matrix posted is all fine and good. It does serve as a good reminder on expectations. But, we also have to lead by example. 

For example, there’s a busy and thoughtful mom who, for years, has taken the time to write and mail thank you cards for the smallest things. She also has mailed many cards to my children recognizing them for their accomplishments. Her son is now starting middle school and she told me yesterday, that she has her cards ready!

And, then one of my daughter’s new teacher (that she was actually scared to get) came out to the walker line Friday to say hi. He snuck up behind her and told me in his deep voice that he needed to talk to me about my daughter. She started grinning, knowing he’s a jokester. He said she has been raising her hand and answering questions this week!

Taking a moment to just be nice is the best PBIS model that we can provide. Maybe, we all just need a reminder that it’s not that hard! Being nice, positive, and respectful makes people like you and want to listen and learn! So, my attention-grabber this year is to also say, “You’re welcome!”. It’s time for a refresher course!….

“And, thank you!” 😉

positiveIt’s back to school which means earlier bed times and bye-bye to summer. And while this is always a bummer, it’s also a really exciting time to be inside a school. The floors are waxed, the paint is fresh, and the schools are all themed out. Teachers are abuzz with who’s in their class and the children are smiling when they walk in those school doors. It’s a hopeful time of year.

This week has reminded me what the impact of just a few positive interactions can do, what just believing in another person can do. It’s why I became a counselor.

Now, you know I love Bearden Elementary school. I’m completely biased as it’s also my alma mater. But, I do choose for my children to attend there while they’re actually zoned another school. I do love it and think it’s a happy, little school.

But, I also have another passion and I couldn’t be happier to be back at Pond Gap Elementary School just around the corner. This was my first week back in the school. It looks a lot different with new paint and half a new school building (pretty amazing). It does look great.

But, more than that, it feels even better. My first day back, I was flooded with warm welcomes from the staff, even those I hadn’t met before. The positive attitudes are contagious filling the school with motivation and dedication. It makes working at a school so much more enjoyable when you feel like you are valued and belong.

Kids must feel the same way. Last year, I also worked with amazing, dedicated educators and a population of very polite, nice, and appreciative children at a very different school on a different end of town. But, it wasn’t Pond Gap. I really missed the children at Pond Gap and still thought of them. Every school is different and they aren’t all for everyone. Sometimes you just feel and do your best when you click at a school. That’s how I feel about Pond Gap.

This week, after the incredible staff, team-building meeting, I was walking down the hall and saw a familiar face down by the office. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since he was in first grade. He’s now going into 3rd grade. He’s a little taller but still has a winning smile. He squinted and did a double take before I called his name. Then, he broke into a sprint (breaking hallway procedure!) towards me. He gave me a bear-hug and we walked down the hall hugging. He couldn’t believe I was coming back.

And this afternoon, we had a meet and greet at Pond Gap. First, I ran into some familiar faces and got more hugs. In fact, one girl who was in a small group with me maybe 3 years ago, gave me my ‘building up trust’ hand signal with a big smile on her face.

Finally, I ran into a 5th grade boy who is now my height. This African American boy has the cool clothes and the cool 5th grade attitude too. I’ve also known him for years. After getting a hug from him (yes, a hug from a 5th grade boy!), he turned to a new student sitting beside him. As I introduced myself to this new boy, my friend chimed in. He said, “If you meet with her, it is ON.” I was thinking maybe he was telling him that you meet with me when you’re in trouble. (I’m out of practice with this lingo so I asked for clarification!) He grinned turning to this new boy and said, “You’ll go to her room, learn some stuff, and have FUN!”.

That’s why I do this. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t know every kid. I don’t make a difference to every kid. I don’t have success with every kid I work with but it won’t stop me from trying.

This year, both of my schools are filled with adults who are hopeful and full of kids who are ready to be loved on. Don’t ever doubt that you can be that person that believed in them. You can’t have too much kindness! I can’t wait to have more opportunities to teach, connect, love, and believe in these kids!

 

 

 

Dear Parent,

Father Saying Goodbye To Children As They Leave For School

Change is hard. Period. Adults, especially, have a hard time breaking habits, accepting a new job or responsibility, and trusting new people or ways. We are creatures of habit. We don’t want to change. We like what we like and we are sometimes resistant to even good changes.

It’s the unknown that can feel scary or just uncomfortable. We don’t always want to put in the extra effort or work to get somewhere new. Kids also like routines and comfort but are more adaptable and flexible. (It’s no coincidence that I prefer to work with kids versus adults!). Unlike adults, kids aren’t as resistant. In fact, kids can amaze me with their resiliency, openness, and even excitement for change!

Take me for example. Last year, I was moved from working at a school I loved. This change was out of my control and not what I wanted, as well as being a surprise right after the school year ended and summer was starting. I was personally insulted and angered that my feelings were not taken into consideration. And, I spent many summer weeks mulling over this unwanted change, sulking and complaining. (I am not one to fake my feelings!).

By the time school started at my new school, I had chosen to embrace the change. Dwelling on things we can’t control is a WASTE OF TIME and ENERGY anyway. The new school and staff was great and very different than any school I had worked in. The Administration completely trusted and valued the role of the School Counselor (which is so amazing and uncommon!). And reflecting back, I think I made some positive changes in some children and maybe even added some to the school climate. The year wasn’t wasted and I think I may have even grown a little as a professional.

What does any of this have to do with children and accepting change? Well, the school year is about to start and many have already discovered who their child’s new teacher will be. You might have even figured out some of the kids who will be in their class too. I know that my children did not receive the news they were hoping to hear and there was some disappointment this week . Their class placement is a surprise to me just like it is any parent but I didn’t expect for them to be in class with all their best friends like they did.

I have a unique experience, working as the Counselor in the same school where my children attend. It doesn’t bring any special privileges or opportunities like some might imagine but it does offer me the benefit of having the inside scoop! It also lends to hearing and seeing both sides of an issue or situation, being friends with both teachers and parents, as well as knowing many kids on a more personal level. So, it’s great and very helpful even to me personally as a parent. I see inner-workings of the school while realizing what allows students to succeed. It’s at this time of the summer, before we about to embark on something new, that we, as parents, can help set the tone for the year. I hope this helps you, your child, and your child’s teacher build a relationship that’s symbiotic, positive, and productive this school year!

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DEAR PARENT,

Your child was placed in their class with intention. There is a reason that not all of his/her friends are in there too. It will be o.k. Don’t complain and sulk along with your child. This is an opportunity to talk about forming new relationships. This is a chance to talk to your kid about how people change. Children are capable of changing and their behavior doesn’t define them so just because your child didn’t like them or their behavior lasts year doesn’t mean they won’t this year. Encourage your kid to give everyone a chance and explain that they may get to know and even like someone they never expected to like this year. Every school year is a chance to make new friends.

Don’t treat your child like they are better than or won’t have any friends this year just because your neighbors aren’t in their class. Don’t act like your child is a good kid from a good family just because you don’t know some of the other families. (We are all crazy behind our own front doors anyway!). Not only be open but tell your child it’s going to be exciting to make new friends and get to know people better no matter where they live, who they live with, or what they look like.

Stop judging a teacher before your child even steps in the door. Even at small schools, or especially at smaller schools, teachers are talked about and gain a reputation. Many times, it’s just rumors or based on isolated incidents. Sometimes, there is something to it but you never know how your child will fit with this teacher. Just because someone else didn’t like the teacher doesn’t mean your child won’t. Time and time again, you’ll be surprised with whom your child ends up clicking with if you don’t interfere.

Please go into the school year with an open mind. Don’t fuel the rumors if your child is disappointed and gossip about hearing this teacher yells all the time or is always mean. We don’t want to set up our children to have a perception formed before they’ve even had a chance to form their own opinion. It’s so surprising and also exciting to watch our children adapt to new teaching styles and personality types. Talk about setting them up for success in the future. If our kids can adapt and adjust to a completely new personality, think about what that could do for them in the future. We can’t always give them what we think will be the best fit because we just don’t know!

Embrace their teacher no matter what you’ve heard. Embrace their teacher even if you don’t like them. Yes, that’s right. If you think something negative, keep it to yourself because it will not help your child at all. Drop preconceived ideas and model going into the school year with an open mind. (You can’t trust gossip anyway!). And, trust your child’s teacher is teaching because they chose this profession. Unlike many jobs, they chose to work with children and there’s a reason.

Recognize that things aren’t going to always be perfect, and go into the year with a growth mindset. Just don’t be defensive. Your kid (and yes, my kid too) will be making some mistakes. They won’t get 100 on every test, and they may even get in trouble a time or two. Don’t overreact. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Expect that not only is their teacher not perfect but neither is your pride and joy. They will make some mistakes and they are in elementary school. What they make on one test will not matter. What they make on one report card will not stop them from getting into college. And, even sitting out one recess is not the end of the world!

Let the teachers handle it and take their lead. Be supportive of the decisions the teacher makes. And if you don’t agree, communicate with the teacher to understand privately. Don’t jump to also include your child and tell the teacher they are wrong. Follow up at home with your child. And, yes, there are consequences for actions (or lack of) but look at these mistakes as opportunities to change and grow. Adults need to take the blinders off this year and remind ourselves to look at the big picture.

Be forgiving! Sometimes, this takes a pause. Before we react, think about how important this is and whether it’s something you’ll remember or care about in a year.

Let go of little things. If they can’t sit by their best friend at lunch, that’s ok. If they are left out one day on the playground, it’s ok. If they don’t make student council, it’s ok. If your kids see you overreact, they grow entitled and start to believe there is something to be upset about. Let go if your child isn’t always first or the best. Help them move on from insignificant situations while accepting that we all are frustrated or disappointed sometimes.

Be there to listen. Make sure you take the time to ask the right questions and listen to how your kids are doing. Ask how they’re feeling and praise the good choices they make. Use affective statements (which Knox county is beginning to implement county-wide…yay! 🙂 ) to acknowledge how you feel about how your kids are doing and reinforce positive actions.

And, show up…..but not too much! Some teachers like volunteers and some don’t. Some teachers communicate regularly and some only do when necessary. What teachers do not appreciate is no involvement or buy-in and too much involvement, lack of respect,  and lack of trust. Don’t email them if your child gets a ‘B’. Don’t schedule a conference because your child had a fight with their best friend this week. Don’t show up for lunch because your child doesn’t have anyone to sit beside. Give your child and teacher the trust that they are capable. Be there but also allow for some space for your child to work through some things creating independence.

Thank you for being there as involved people who care! Thank you for showing up. And, thank you for understanding that working in a school is hard! Thank you for volunteering and supporting our teachers. And, thank you for noticing all the pieces that make a school work. Here’s to new, exciting beginnings!

Sincerely,

Your School Counselor and Parent

Your child will adjust to this new school year but will you!? With a balance of support, accountability, trust, and love,  it’s going to be a great, imperfect new year!

 

 

 

Summer Sarah

If you are a parent or especially if you are an educator, I know you’re loving summer! Summer time brings flexible sleep schedules, maybe even a nap or two if you’re lucky, friends and bbq’s, books and movies, and just the freedom to have a little bit more fun and flexibility. It’s a well-needed break!

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Here’s the thing, it’s almost over friends! So, whatever you had hoped to do or complete, DO IT NOW! As you teacher-friends know, when school starts, forget it! You don’t have the time or energy to exercise after school or go to a casual dinner with friends. Shoot, we are lucky to still be awake at 9 for our favorite show! The first month of school (or the whole year!) sucks the life out of you.

What non-educators don’t realize is that no one would do the job if we didn’t get time off! Working with children is exhausting. Being on your game everyday and giving 100% is demanding. There are no business lunches out or long boardroom meetings. No, that would be an exciting rest. When you work in a school, you are ON all the time. We do it because we want to give our kids our undivided attention igniting their love of learning while also making sure their basic needs are met. And then they are the parents…our plates are full!

So while we have these last couple weeks of freedom, seize the day. Make sure you’re checking all those bucket-list activities off your list. Rest, rest, and rest! And make sure you’re practicing your self–care.

In the summer, I’ve nicknamed myself ‘Summer Sarah’. My husband knows better than anyone that Summer Sarah is more fun, energetic, happy, and exciting. Why? Because I’m not dog-tired. Self-care restores and I make it a mission to do what makes me happy during the summer.

Nurses, counselors, teachers, therapists, mothers, fathers, grandparents- we are the caretakers and it’s tough. Caretakers often feel exhausted because we put our own personal wants and needs second making sure the needs of others are met first. We make it our mission to keep others comfortable and happy while often times neglecting to do the same for ourselves. Over time, this makes us tired, irritable, or even resentful. This doesn’t make for good caretakers! We have to make time for ourselves too.

Self care:

  • a good diet

  • healthy habits

  • exercise

  • hobbies

  • rest

  • taking time for oneself

  • balance

We have to stop feeling guilty for taking care of ourselves because it just doesn’t make sense not to! How can our children get the best teaching, guidance, love, and understanding if their caretakers are unhappy and overspent? If you’re already spent, then make a decision to do something that rejuvenates you this week. We have to recharge.

If you’re well-rested and about to start something hard, then make a plan to keep yourself healthy. Be of healthy body AND mind by doing things that keep your spirit lifted. Sometimes there’s just time for reading a chapter of a good book at night or going for a quick walk around the block. It’s better than nothing. To prevent burnout, we have to take time for caring for the most important person, the caretaker!

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R-E-S-T

Realize that life isn’t a race.

Exonerate yourself from always doing. 

Set aside time for nothing.

Take time for reflections, prayers, silence, and each other. 

This past Sunday at church, the sermon was about rest. It’s a idea that you don’t have to talk me into! Yet, the idea resonated with me especially right now as we make some decisions about schedules and brace ourselves for the fall. Get ready for the whirlwind of open houses, new teachers, new coaches, and new friends. Back-to-school brings lots of change and excitement that it can really make time fly by. Before you know it, it’s football season! So it’s at this time of the year that I encourage you (and I remind myself) to set some priorities and limits for your children and family.

 
It’s become the norm in this country to be busy and overscheduled, as if life is a contest and the busiest wins. All summer long, families are filling up their summer ‘free’ time with organized activities. Camps during the day, more camps at night, sleep-away camps, practices, lessons, swim meets, and filling time….Go, go, go! And when school starts, it gets even crazier. GO, GO, GO, GO!

 
The only reason I am taking the time to reflect on this phenomenon is that I don’t think that everyone choosing this lifestyle is enjoying this hurried life. I often times hear the deep sighs of rushing mothers or the complaints of frantic parents about where they have to be next. Is there a reward in choosing to live like this?

BUSY IS A CHOICE.

 
Whether it be sports, music, dance, or even tutoring, we sometimes rush our kids through life, teaching them that busier is better with too many after-school activities. We should know as adults that this mentality and lifestyle isn’t benefitting our mental and physical health, or overall wellbeing. Lack of focus, irritability, and lack of self-control can all be linked to children who are overtired. As adults, we have to set limits and model having some down time too.

 
Remember, it’s a choice how you want to spend your free time. If you find yourself dreading or complaining that you have to do something, you shouldn’t be doing it. Set boundaries for yourself and your children. If it’s your child’s joy to play that sport, play that piano, dance or sing, or whatever it might be, then by all means, rush to get them there. However, many kids don’t want to be taking those 3 dance classes, and piano, and tutoring, and church…. Parents can overdo it.

 
Childhood is fast and it should be fun. We don’t have to rush to be good at everything or stay busy for the sake of being busy, telling people what our kids do. Time is valuable. Choose what you want to do with your time, and don’t automatically fill it up. It’s ok to leave time to pause.

 

Rest provides others the best versions of ourselves. Rest helps us remain true to ourselves. Rest connects us to God. If we don’t rest, we don’t pause to reflect on the choices we are making. As this school year begins, choose time for what’s most important, each other.

virtue

 

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