What?!? Happy New Year? Have I lost it when the calendar shows the new year happening in January? Nope! Our family rings in the new year with the start to the school year. This makes sense to me because we are starting a new chapter in our lives as our kids venture in to a new grade with new teachers, new schools, new coaches, new clothes, new set of challenges, and new what-have-you. I encourage you to also embrace the start to the school year as a “new year!” Because technically…it is!

Celebrating the new year in January never made sense to me as it’s mid-year or mid-school year when you have children in school. Ringing in the new year sounds hollow in January for our family as it really isn’t a new year…the start of the school year is. We tend to rest on January 1 and prepare for returning to school after the Christmas season. But, the return to school is the true start of the school year for families with children.

So, how do you celebrate the new year? New Year’s Resolutions come to mind. Why not embrace these New Year’s Resolutions pre-school year? It will help your entire family focus on having a positive, productive year. As the popular adage coined by Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, holds true, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

As moms on a healing cancer journey, we may think we do not have time to sit down with our family and focus on the new year. Some will take the time to plan whereas, others will just wing it! Others prefer to procrastinate…and some live in denial. Where ever you land on the spectrum…I encourage you to sit down with your family on a Sunday afternoon (or whatever time works best) and plan for the best year EVER! Do something different…meet outside at the picnic table with snacks.

My best words of advice are to: KISS (Keep It Simple Simple- I know…the last word stands for “stupid” but I like to keep it positive…and SIMPLE). If you keep it simple, chances are likely your family will buy in to this new year celebration. Where we tend to go wrong is when we get complicated with rules, goals, unrealistic expectations.

A fav’ proverb of mine from my Peace Corps Volunteer days in Uganda, East Africa: Akwata empola, atuuka wala or “step by step one reaches a long distance.” Sometimes, it is just taking that first step and then letting God/Universe/The Divine guide your next step. Of course, this takes a helluva a lot of faith!

Also, keep this return to school FUN! Research shows that when August rolls around so does a parent’s increased sense of anxiety about the new school year. Especially, if you are a mom! A survey from Kiddie Academy, an educational child care center, found that when they polled members of the family 63% reported that mom is the hardest hit with the first day of school.

Remember if you are an Amazing Mom on her Healing Cancer Journey…to keep this anxiety and stress level down. Cancer feeds on stress! If you plan, are organized, and keep this time FUN…it will be a win-win for your family and most importantly…YOU!

From the Kiddie Academy survey, only 27% identified as the child being the one who struggles the most with this change. (www.healthline.com)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), spokesperson Dr. Sara Bode suggests, “Anything you can do to minimize the mystery of it all ahead of time is going to help your kids. If you can preplan to have a visit to the school, talking about everything they should expect, and even practicing what the first day of school might look like, that can help.”

Your kids follow your lead…if you keep your anxiety and stress level down…your children will follow suit.

So, what are simple, affordable, fun ideas to ring in the new year?

  • Take a day to spend with your family having fun!

~ Movie montage where you all get to pick a movie to watch. Put on your jammies, pop some corn and get ready to relax with your family.

~ Go on a bike ride and pack a picnic lunch.

~ Have a scavenger hunt in your yard and “Build Your Own” ice cream sundaes.

  • Plan a family meeting.

~ Make this fun! Decide on a family “theme” song and play it when gathering everyone to meet.

~ Ask everyone to participate. Maybe one provides a joke, one provides a proverb/fable, or something of their choice for the meeting.

~ Everyone comes with a calendar and a notebook to record short-term goals and long-term goals for the school year. Each person shares goals with the family so the family can support the member during the year. Invest in positive calendars or check out online calendars!

  • Spend time with each child.

~ This gives mom an opportunity to check in with each child before the school year: Anxiety? Concerns? Goals? How best support each child?

~ Be sure to end this time with each child by asking how they would like to spend time with mom. This gives each child to do something they like and want to do with mom. Maybe a walk, a bike ride, playing catch, cooking a meal, trip to the local ice cream store…

However you frame the return to school…remember to Keep It Simple, Simple!

A little pre-planning for the school year and celebrating can go a long way! Keep the return to the school year light and stress-free for our Amazing Moms on their Healing Cancer Journey. Make this a humdinger of a year by starting out the new year right!

Happy New Year!!!





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