Love it or hate it, the back-to-school countdown is on! Whether you homeschool or wrestle with homework, the weight of getting an education can sometimes be as heavy on the parents as on the kids. Here are my top three ways I plan joy in the new school year:

Take a day to get ready. I don’t mean a day to argue over school clothes with your tween or to check off a list of notebooks and crayons — I mean a day to shore up your soul in planning and prayer for the new year. Write out the goals you have for you and your children this year and bring them to God. Then, whether its better grades or more peaceful evenings, pray over each one and make a plan with small monthly steps toward making it happen.

Plan to start over. We humans love fresh starts, do-overs, and new seasons, and that’s the reason that the first day of school feels a lot better than the 137th. Plan now to build in a little “new” here and there along the way — anything from a fresh notebook or lunchbox to a schedule that shakes things up. You could plan small surprises every month or a special experience at the end of every quarter to jolt the system and give a shot of energy for a new beginning.

Remember that your soul isn’t semester-based. And neither is your child’s. I constantly have to remind myself that my ultimate goal for my kids isn’t grades, it’s God. And just like with you and me, God often uses failure to shape us in HIs image far more than He does our successes. It’s so very hard to do, but we must remember that Jesus is in the business of shaping souls that are fit for Himself and for eternity, not for college applications. Weigh your days in light of forever.

Would love to hear how you’re making back to school better! Let me know in the comments or over at my Instagram: @kellyadkins.

If you want more joy, you have to plan for it.

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