My five children started school yesterday. They were so excited! They all had so much to tell me as I picked them up from school – they’d met new friends, caught up with old friends, started to get to know teachers, and found out what they were going to get to learn this year.
After our traditional first-day-of school homemade cookies and milk (when everyone talked excitedly over everyone else about the day’s adventures), I sat down individually with each child to go over all the material their teachers had sent home, learning about this year’s curriculum and expectations. Then we put important dates on the calendar based on what they brought home and organized the things they need to keep handy in their cubbies for homework time (thanks to the great ideas in the Organizing for School Success Kit).
I’m so happy that my kids are excited and prepared and moving forward with some exciting new things in their lives. Getting organized and learning and doing new things can bring such joy.
As we help our children get going on learning new things and making new friends and help set them up for progress and success, wouldn’t it be good to do the same for ourselves? The joy of learning and friends and getting organized isn’t just for kids, is it?
Here are some great ideas and resources to help YOU bring more learning, friends, andorganization into your life:
Learning New Things
* TED Talks: While kids are at school (or during nap time if you’ve got little ones), you can spend 5-10 minutes watching a great talk about a subject that sparks your interest. These talks really hold your attention and get your brain moving! Here are a few talks to start you off and get you thinking (I’m not saying I agree 100% with these talks, just that they really gave my brain a workout while giving me helpful parenting thoughts): The Key to Success: Grit, How Schools Kill Creativity, What do Babies Think? Don’t Eat the Marshmallow, Several interesting talks about what makes us happy
* Reading: Your kids go to the library every week at school and are supposed to read 20 minutes or so a day, right? What about you? Make sure YOU go to the library regularly (with or without kids) and pick out a book that YOU’RE going to read. Make yourself a book list for each quarter like the book lists your children have. Ask a librarian or friends what their favorite books are, think back to books you’ve heard about, or check out some of our favorite books here to come with your book list. You may also want to read some of the same books your older kids are reading so you can talk about them together. If you want to combine social stuff with reading, join or put together a book group.
My kids love for me to tell them bedtime stories and lately I’ve been telling them the story of whatever book I’m reading. Right now I’m reading Unbroken and each night, they can’t wait to hear the next installment of the story based on what I read that day. As I tell stories in my own words, I can make it age-appropriate and emphasize any lessons that the story brings up. It’s great when they beg me to go read my book so I can tell them the next part!
* Online Learning: What do you want to learn to do? What is a subject you’ve always wondered about? Make a list! Then go to YouTube and I bet you’ll find a great video tutorial or educational video on pretty much anything you’ve got on your list. If what you find on YouTube just whets your appetite, maybe it’s time to find a class (online or in person) that will help you dig deeper. Oh how good it feels to be learning about something that really interests us and progressing with skills that we enjoy!
I have a good friend who taught herself to knit via YouTube. Another friend is learning about the countries her ancestors came from thanks to Wikipedia and tons of other great websites that popped up when she googled the countries. She’s been giving weekly reports to her children about what she’s learned.
* Practicing “Old” Skills: After about a 20-year hiatus, my daughter’s desire to take violin lessons has inspired me to pick up my violin again and learn some new songs. With just a few minutes of practice a day, I can find great joy in progressing in music once again. What did you once enjoy learning/working on that you could start learning/working on again?
* Learning Circles: I LOVE getting together every month with my Learning Circle. There are six of us who meet the third Tuesday of every month to learn from each other using the great Learning Circle articles provided by Power of Moms as a jumping-off place. We talk about our highs and lows in the past month of motherhood. We eat tasty treats. We often laugh until we cry. We sometimes cry until we laugh. And between meetings we work on an assignment we all share that goes with the article we read and discussed, reporting to each other via our Facebook group.
Last month, one of our members’ sons got married and everyone quite naturally pitched in to help. One member loves baking and did the cake. One did the hair of most members of the wedding party. One did flowers. One organized the set-up and clean-up. We never realized that within our group we had some of the major skills it takes to pull off a wedding! As we took a photo together at the close of the reception, we talked about how glad we all are to have this group we can go to for help with just about anything.
With the help of our Learning Circle Start-up Kit, anyone can quickly and easily set up a really great Learning Circle group.
* Playgroups: Moms need playgroups just as much as kids need playgroups! Think about the moms you know that you think you might enjoy getting to know better. Which of them have kids your kids would enjoy playing with? Pick up the phone or send a quick email out, asking a couple moms to come over with their kids on a specific day. Once the kids are playing together, talk about making this gathering a regular thing, meeting at a different house each week. All it takes is one or two other moms and an initial gathering and voila, you’ve got a playgroup! Some of my best friends are moms I got to know in playgroups way back when. And should you want a more formalized playgroup that’s more of a pre-school co-op, check out Joy School.
Prioritizing, Organizing and Making Ideas into Reality
* How to Renegotiate with Yourself: As we decide what to do, we also need to decide what NOT to do. This article really helped me learn more about managing expectations and keeping relationships prioritized above accomplishments and projects.
* Planning a Beautiful Life that Fits on One Plate: This article walks you through five simple steps for defining what your priorities are – totally helpful as you do personal planning for this school year.
* A Seven-Step Plan to Organize the House: Once you’ve got the kids’ school stuff organized and a good routine going, I think it feels GREAT to get the house all nicely organized. This post makes it simple and do-able.
These ideas have really helped me find joy as I’ve prioritized learning and friends and progress for myself and for my children. Isn’t it so good for everyone when we make a point of modeling and enjoying some of the same things we want for our children?
QUESTION: What do YOU want to learn and accomplish this year while your kids work to learn and accomplish at school?
CHALLENGE: Choose a couple ideas above and make them happen!
* Image from She Knows: Back to School Tips