Whilst the rest of society draws up their lists of good intentions and intended lifestyle changes on the eve of January 1st, many parents see the autumn term as their New Start - and make a list of resolutions to go with it.
There is something wonderfully inspiring and shiny and new about the first days of term - and not just in terms of your offspring's gleaming new pencil case and box-fresh school shoes.
September herald changes for parents with school age children for so many reasons: some parents will be waving their little ones off for the first time, whilst others will be settling their tweens into their new secondary schools. Even for those in the 'middle years' there will be new teachers, new routines, and new things to discover and learn.
And after the relaxed, routine-less weeks of the long summer break, it can be a shock to the system, which is why many of us draw up our lists - our 'resolutions'.
It could be real Life Laundry stuff ( who doesn't do a bit of navel gazing over the summer and make New Year, New You style plans?) or it could just be implementing some structure in the family which makes the working (school or employment) week just that bit easier for all concerned. However you plan to overhaul your lifestyle this new term, Sue Atkins, author, broadcaster and the founder of www.positive-parents.com offers the following tips:
Daydream the steps to a fulfilling new school year
Grab a pen and paper and a coffee, relax and have fun pondering what you want to achieve this term as a parent. It could be hearing your kids read for 10 minutes every evening (be specific about exactly what time this will happen), teaching your kids to do their homework at a certain time each day, setting up a new bedtime routine, setting new house rules about tidying their bedroom, emptying the dishwasher or feeding the dog. Be clear and be specific and just close your eyes and daydream about what you want to change or see happen this term. Visualising is a brilliant way to really get clear on your new goals for your family and will make sure they stay dreams with a date not just empty promises!
Make some family talk time
The exciting start of the school year is an ideal time to talk with your child about setting some simple goals for the future around school. Perhaps you could chat about learning to play the piano, joining the school choir, taking up a new hobby or practising their times tables every night for 5 quick minutes. Make the goals fun, achievable and specific and break them down into small bite sized steps that don't overwhelm your child and celebrate their successes often to keep them moving forward and motivated.
When we have kids we often put ourselves way down the priority list. This means we are running on empty and are often exhausted. Find some time every day, every week and every, month to connect to you. It replenishes your batteries, revives your enthusiasm and helps re charge your batteries so you bounce up in the morning with renewed energy and patience. Make this year the year to learn something new. Perhaps you are considering a career change, want to learn a new language, fancy learning how to fix your computer or learn to salsa dance. Whether you take a course or read a book, you'll find taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill will invigorate you, keep you motivated and meeting new people, and will help you to relax. It is also one of the easiest, most motivating New Year's resolutions to keep.
Take control of the housework
Lots of parents feel overwhelmed by all the juggling they do with school runs, housework and working so to help you feel back in control of your housework work out what's your main energy drainer, what eats away at your energy and vitality, and ponder how you could organise your housework slightly differently. Could you ask for help, delegate some of it, change your routines, and get someone to share the ironing?
Make a 'to do today' list
What are the three most important things I want to make today about?
What is the one thing I most want to do or get done in each area?
Voila – your Today's To Do List
Spend more time with family and friends
Appreciate your family and loved ones and spend more time with them this year. Make plans to have some family time playing board games, bowling , riding bikes or getting out and about together. Choose a specific day , or evening and pop it in your diary so it WILL happen and make it a regular event and watch your family bonds grow as you make memories that last a lifetime.
Have you made some new term's resolutions?
Do you start out with good intentions and then slip back into old ways, or have you radically overhauled your parenting/work/life balance now the kids are back at school? If so, inspire us.