It's back to school! One of the most favorite 'holidays' for parents! Here in our community, the school buses will fire up in just a week. That means our crew will be heading off to classes in just about 6 days. And for the first time in our schooling years, all five will be in all-day classes. It's an event that will mark a new chapter in the Higham House, and will surely lead to a roller coaster of emotions.
This week we are celebrating the back to school season with a week full of back to school blogs. As we think about getting our family ready for the new school year, we are thinking about topics such as family routines, apps and technology, and how to make the most of the school year. So we want to talk about what we are doing in the Higham House as we move into the new year.
So let's get started talking first about the role we play as parents.
As parents, it is important that we work together as a team. Between homework, after school activities, sporting events, and the additional happenings that take place during the school year, life can be overwhelming. We juggle the schedules for 4 active boys spanning 4th through 11th grade. This year, our youngest starts 1st grade adding a fifth schedule to our calendar. We have found that the only way to navigate the complexities of the busy school year is to work together.
A couple of years ago, Amy carried the wait of managing our busy family schedule. I was working a full-time job, plus trying to do the church-plant thing. After working my 9-5, I would come home to study and prepare for the weekly sermon, prep for a worship service, and work on other church related items. Amy did the carpooling, games, practices, and whatever else was needed for the kids. It was exhausting. Last year we made the decision to work together. We rotated and shared the duties of pick ups and drop offs, sitting at games and practices, and whatever else was needed. It wasn't perfect and Amy still carried most of the weight, but we made it work. The point is that as parents, we need to work together and share in the work and care of the family. So once again this year, we are committing to sharing the various duties of parenting during this coming season. We're not sure exactly how it will look, but we know that we both need to and want to be involved in our kids lives together.
(There's more to the idea of Teamwork, but that's for another blog.)
With teamwork comes communication. Managing the calendars for five students can be tricky. Communicating is just as essential as learn to work together. Drop offs, pick ups, who goes where and when...it's a lot to get done. One of the ways we work on communication is with the family calendar. Over the last couple of years, we have tried to generate a family calendar that contains all the activities for all the kids and Amy and I. The calendar is then linked to all of our electronic devices; iPhones, iPods, iPads, and home computers. Amy and I try to talk regularly, reviewing and confirming who will be doing what and when.
Now I won't say that the calendar is fool proof. We have made our fair share of mistakes and miscommunications. But it proves the need for ongoing communication all the more. The calendar is just a tool, a way to stay organized. The fact that we can share across our digital devices helps us to stay on top of all that's happening. But simply having it on a colorful screen isn't enough. You still need to talk about what's going on. Whether it's a weekly meeting or a series of text messages to remind your spouse to pick your son up after football practice, communication is key. As a team, you and your spouse need to talk about what's happening within your family.
Intentionality is the idea that you as the parents are being intentional with your kids; with your time and energy and all you do. A number of years ago, Amy and I sat in a general session at a youth workers convention as the speaker encouraged us youth workers to choose where our priorities were. He suggested that we put our families first and ministry second. That weekend we made the commitment to do that very thing, to put our family first. We were young back then, and it was easy to establish that priority. Over the years we maintained the commitment of putting our family first. Whether it was cheering from the bleachers or coaching their teams, sitting through 3rd grade band recitals, or family movie night at home, we were intentional in spending time with our kids.
However, we have also learned the difficult lesson of not being so intentional. These last 3, almost 4 years, we put ministry ahead of our family. In planting our church, we made the mistake of allowing "church business" and church to do lists to dictate our schedules and family life. We felt an overwhelming pressure (mostly from ourselves) to "make the church work." That left me, (Jay) missing out on a lot of family time. I missed countless sporting events, school meetings, and other functions because we thought that what the church needed was more important than what our family needed. The faulty in that is that our family suffered, big time. So at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, we determined to be more intentionally. Church stuff would have to wait as we put our family back into it proper place.
Being intentional brings us as parents to place our families as our priority. Parenting is more than keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table. Being a parent requires us to pour into the lives of our kids in ways that make a lasting impression. It's the old question of quantity vs quality. What's more important, that we're spending more time with our kids or spending better time with our kids? It's both! Being intentional is both spending more time AND spending better time. It's making the most of every moment, even the ones that seem menial like drop offs and pick ups. Use those moments, even the time driving around, to being intentional with your kids.
Back to school is a great time. It's exciting and new. But we as parents must play an active role in our kids lives during the school year. Make the most of the school year. Decide now to work together, communicate better, and be more intentional in the year to come.
Amy and I aren't sure what the 2015-2016 school will hold. Nor do we know what life in ministry will look like this year. But we are determined to do it together, talking about what's happening around us, with the hope of making the most of every moment. No doubt this will lead us to have to say 'NO' to somethings along the way. But if it allows us to say 'YES' to our family, we trust that it will be worth it.
Have a great school year!
- the higham family
*Coming up on Tuesday's blog post, we will share 3 family friendly back to school tips that help to set the tone for the school year ahead! Be sure to check us out tomottow!
Hi we're Jay & Amy, and we've been married for 19 years and are super blessed to be busy raising our 5 kids; 4 boys and 1 girl. We juggle the adventures of life and ministry and share what we are learning as it relates to marriage, family, raising kids, serving in the church, and chasing after Jesus. Raising a family is hard work, especially in today's culture. But our hope is to encourage you and your family, as we live for the glory of God.
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.