This time of year can be so emotional. It's not just about the balancing act we face each day with work, play, care planning, and family time. It's about starting a new year, watching the kids grow up, encouraging development and relationships, and savoring the details. It goes by too fast, like everything else. Hopefully these ideas will help you put on the brakes, reconnect with the kids, and ring in the new school year with panache and warmth.
Books. Check out our Book Cafe for cool reading suggestions this year. Back-to-School time is a great one for creating or updating your book collection at home or discovering new reading levels and topics for the kids as their reading skills develop. And, it's fun! No kid is ever too old for a bedtime story or family reading time. Best of all, these are recommendations from Care.com staffers.
Handling Homework. If it hasn't been an issue yet, it will be—especially if your child needs to complete it with your sitter's help. Every child has a different way of coping with homework. For some, it's a chore. For others, it's an enjoyable extension of their day. Get to know where your child fits into this spectrum and don't forget to prepare your sitter for homework time!
Fun Things for Kids of All Ages. Reconnect with your family and have some fun. Never underestimate the impact even a little play time together will have on your kids. You can figure out how to fit it into your hectic schedule, I promise. Check out this article from the Care.com Editorial Team for some ideas.
Your Child this Year. Introducing…your kid…again. I think this is when most parents wish their kids came with a personalized road map guiding them on their own journey of development. Of course, no such thing exists. But, you can get a handle on it by talking to your child, his teacher, his pediatrician, and his child care provider. One of the hallmarks of good parenting these days is bridging the communication gap on all fronts. It's tough, especially when you're busy or just not comfortable with the idea of it. But it is doable with good (and diligent) communication.
Crafting Memories. Sometimes, a little suggestion is all it takes to jump start your own creativity. Here are a few to consider trying with your family:
- Reading and writing journals. These are most fun when done with a parent on books the kids choose themselves. Let your child also pick out a cool notebook from your local craft shop. For summer fun that transitions to school year responsibilities, let your child shape this project and offer suggestions as they ask (and be sure to mention that you can't wait to see what they've written). Even early readers and writers can do this project, though they need more help. Read a story and then pick star stickers to rate the story, or draw a picture illustrating a favorite part.
- Movie review journals. Start your kids off by asking them to comment on videos they've watched, or even movies you've seen together—and let them invent their own rating system. Create a movie list through Netflix to watch, discuss, and review together as a family—or even create your own family Listmania! List on Amazon.com. You'll be surprised at how much culture they'll pick up along the way—not to mention how much fun you'll all have.
- Photo books and scrapbooks. At the recent BlogHer conference, I met the team behind Scrapblog.com, a new online scrapbooking site perfect for all ages where you can upload photos, create albums, and share your finished creation with family and friends. Their tools are simple to use, and even allow you to upload video! Check out the photo below of me with my sister Suzette and my niece Elizabeth at the Scrapblog booth.
And, don't forget old-fashioned Popsicle-stick picture frames and magnets from your local craft store to stick on your fridge!