Fall… Temperatures cool down, leaves change colors, kids go back to school,and for so many single parents, it’s bitter sweet. Fall comes after summer vacation, a well deserved break from the busy schedules and chaos. We welcome summer to get away from the routine business of life but usually by the time fall comes we are ready for routine again. As welcoming as a break is, summer can also bring with it some challenges. Who’s going to watch the kids? How do I make sure they are productive? Too much TV…too many video games. Running here and there. Supper becomes a buffet line. And before we know it we are screaming for school to start again. Isn’t life funny sometimes?
So are you ready for school? Have you taken time this summer to connect with your kids? Did you get a chance to get away? I know being a single parent is hard, but it is very important you are intentional about the little time you do have.
Starting off the school year is also a great time to make some goals. Consider how many meals a week you will eat as a family. Look at your weekly schedule and decide just how much you can fit in. Maintaining some boundaries helps to keep chaos at bay. Decide how many activities your children will be participating in. Consider the personal needs of each of your children and make a plan or find a time to meet those needs this year. Set goals for school activities, school sports, finances, family time, personal time and spiritual time. Making goals and can be a very powerful thing. There is something about looking into the future, evaluating needs, and intentionally making a plan to meet them that is invigorating and hopeful. But sometimes making goals can feel very overwhelming so let me point out a few things to consider.
- Pray. Before you sit down to make your goals, pray that God will show you areas you may need to fine tune, pay closer attention to, or consider making changes. If you have a mentor or close friend, ask them to pray with you.
- Make your goals general and leave the specifics for when you make monthly steps when planning out your yearly goals (see #7).
- Be sure your goals are reasonable. Making unreasonable goals can lead to more guilt and pressure, something single parents do not need more of.
- I would encourage making one year, three year and five year goals. It is great to have tangible long term goals to shoot for.
- I would suggest you make goals for your family, yourself, financial, and goals for each one of your kids. We did this and it helped in being sure we were able to meet all their needs before they left home. And don’t forget to include the church youth or children’s programs in your goals. Building their Spiritual foundation is very important. Being a single parent can seem overwhelming in this area, so be sure you utilize God’s family.
- If you have teens including them in this activity is a great thing to do together. Depending on their age you can decide how involved they should be. Asking them what they would want to do or accomplish this next school year can be very enlightening. And as you “make a plan” together it can be very empowering too.
- After you make your goals, take the one year goals and look at each month and write smaller steps on how to make them happen. You have to start somewhere so start now!
- Review your one year goals monthly. The key to reaching your goals is staying on top of them and evaluating to see if changes need to be made.
- Stay optimistic. Do not be discouraged if changes need to be made. The goal is to make progress, no matter how small.
- Review your three and five year goals next year at this time. You will be surprised how far you have come to making your dreams come true. Remember to make adjustments where needed and do not become overwhelmed. God is already there paving the way.
Don’t let the thought of making goals overwhelm you. It may take some time but after you do this you will feel so much better. If you have a mentor or accountability partner be sure to give them a copy of your goals so they can encourage you and know how to pray for you. But most of all look at this as a way to empower you, not overwhelm you. By taking intentional steps toward reaching a goal you will be energized, trust me!