Back to school is a time of change for many families. Whether it’s our children going to school for the first time or becoming empty nesters, change is always a part of this time of the year. For many of us, it can also be a difficult time as we adjust from a carefree summer to the organization and scheduling that tends to rule our lives when our kids are in school. How could we use gratitude to help us deal with all of these changes?
Personally, I am super excited for the beginning of school. As a work from home parent, it’s not always easy to get much work done in the summer, so I find gratitude in the return to a regular routine. It’s not the same for everyone however and for many parents, the return to school can be a very emotional time.
How does gratitude help?
Let’s say you’re finding it difficult to say goodbye to summer. It feels like it’s gone by far too quickly and there wasn’t enough time to check off everything on your summer to-do list. A great place to start would be to review your summer in detail. Take a look at the camera roll on your phone and choose some of the highlights. Make a list of all of the fun things you did together! You can even take it one step further and print out a few photos to make a small album. Each photo provides an opportunity to give thanks for a new memory that was created. Keep your album in your purse or on your desk and when you’re feeling sad about the end of the summer, flip through the photos with gratitude.
Dealing with little ones going to school for the first time
Four years ago, I put my 3 year old daughter on the school bus for the first time. She insisted that she wanted to take the bus on her first day. I wasn’t so sure about it; however I wanted to allow her to be independent. It was a tough day for me, and I know there were tears. Using gratitude can help turn these difficult moments around for us.
Here are some of the things we can be grateful for on the first day of school:
- A public education system. For most of us, our children can attend school at no extra cost to the parents as our public school systems are paid for by our taxes. In many developing countries, families have to find a way to pay tuition for school in order for their children to attend school at all.
- School bus transportation. This is easy to take for granted since in most communities, there is busing available for students who live outside of walking distance to school. School buses are one of the safest ways for our children to arrive at school (16 times safer than travelling by car).
- Teachers who are willing to teach our children. It’s true that not every teacher loves their job and that some teachers aren’t passionate about their work. However I would say that in my experience, the majority of teachers that I know are very passionate about their work and take their job very seriously. Even if you’re not happy with the teacher that your child has this year, thankfully they will be exposed to many other teachers and staff throughout their day. And sometimes that other teacher may make all of the difference in the world.
- School supplies. This is a hot topic on social media. Should parents be buying school supplies or not? Let’s choose to avoid the controversy and be thankful that we have access to everything our kids could possibly ever need for school, at super low prices. Years ago I visited the Dominican Republic and on our trip we had the chance to pack backpacks full of school supplies for the kids from a nearby village. Giving those kids about $20 worth of school supplies was an incredible feeling because most of them would not have any if it wasn’t for the generosity of others.
- A full lunch box. If you were able to fill your child’s lunch box this morning, give thanks. Again, we hear a lot of grumbling on social media about making school lunches. This summer I volunteered at the Food4Kids program to pack summer food packs. During the school year, there are 400 kids in my own community that don’t have enough food to eat on the weekends and also rely on school food programs for food all week.
- New shoes and clothing. Back to school shopping can be expensive, especially for those with larger families or that have uniforms to buy. For most of, we can figure out how to pay for these items and send our kids to school well-dressed with shoes that fit. I just finished reading An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff. It’s the story of the relationship between Laura, a 35 year old sales executive, and Maurice, an 11 year old panhandler. When she shares his struggles about going to school in smelly, dirty clothes that don’t fit … it’s a great reminder of how blessed we are.
What are some things that you can be grateful for this month? How can you use these simple gratitude reminders to help you get through these times of change?
Julie Boyer’s mission in life is to inspire people to build their lives on a foundation of gratitude through her brand, Wake Up With Gratitude™. Julie’s first book, 30 Days of Gratitude, The Gratitude Program That Will Change Your Life, became an Amazon bestseller when it was released in May 2013. She is also the founder of the 30 Day Whole Body Detox Program, a healthy, whole food detox that nourishes your body at the cellular level. Julie also loves to mentor and develop leaders through her mentorship program as well. A former triathlete, Julie has completed 3 full Ironman Distance triathlons. Julie lives in Ontario, Canada with her 6 year old daughter and husband Dan. She can be reached on her blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.