Helping our Kids Find Peace in the Chaos of Back-to-School

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

If you walked through my front door, you would find a pile of shoes and an open closet door revealing a tangle of jackets, backpacks, socks, and discarded water bottles. There are tumbleweeds of pet fluff floating along the hallway, and more often than not, a massive orange tabby sprawled across the dining room table. It is never quiet, and it is always messy, but it is a refuge and HOME to all who enter. Your home may look, sound, smell, and feel different than mine, but I’m sure you work hard to maintain a refuge for your family as well. However, we have to fight to keep it so, and there are seasons when the battle is more challenging.

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As we enter the Back to School season, maybe you can relate to the panic that settles around my mama heart as I wrestle with the rising surge of uneasiness. Children that usually play well together are at constant odds. Rude comments and aggressive behaviors replace the gentle patterns of family life. Everyone defaults to selfish habits in a desperate attempt to guard their hearts and minds from the onslaught of change. Change in schedule, change in friends and teachers, change in setting — so much change! It all makes sense that we are on edge, if we take a step back to analyze what is really happening, but who has time to think through it all when we are down in the trenches?!

So how do we fight this battle for our family’s peace? First we recognize that we have a Helper always with us, and we seek His wisdom and strength. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit living in us, and we have to actively accept what He offers. Reading God’s word, spending time in conversation with Him, and embracing His people in our community saturates us in His grace. But our children won’t naturally know how to do that — I certainly didn’t as a little girl. We have to make time with our children and help draw them close to the Lord. When my family begins to slide towards chaos and bickering, we stop everything external and draw together. We spend a day of drawing close through meals, games, and worship. Above all, worship! Because we focus on God and seek His help to draw us closer. He never fails to bring us back together and ground us firmly through His word and time with Him.

Then we look closely at what has led to the feelings of chaos. Has our schedule changed? Have we made time to both exercise in God’s creation and get sufficient rest? Are we eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water? What activities are filling our days, and is there a balance between work and play? In God’s word we see clearly that too much of any one thing is never a good idea, unless the One thing is Him! So we have to structure our days to bring Him glory through how we steward our time. Jesus set a wonderful example for us in His time of ministry with His disciples: there were times when they worked as a group amongst the people (community), times when they circled up for reflection and refreshment as a smaller group (family), and times when He withdrew for conversation with the Father (alone). We can model these same rhythms for our children in how we establish our time, recognizing that when we lack balance, it is time to regroup, reflect, and rest.

Photo by Luana Azevedo on Unsplash

Finally, we ask lots of questions about our feelings because younger children may not find it easy to identify the connection between their words and behaviors and what is happening in their hearts and minds. Reading through the Psalms and looking intently at the emotions conveyed is so helpful! The range from praise to lament, joy to suffering, and trust to doubt helps us identify emotions and understand that they are normal and healthy. We try to read from a different one each time we have family devotions, and after we look at the emotions and feelings, we think about when we have felt the same. Our discussion always ends with a focus on what the Psalmist tells us about God: who He is, what He is like, how we can understand Him better, and how knowing Him helps us to navigate the seasons and feelings we experience.

As a final encouragement, I have to remind myself often that we are not of this world. When the world feels stressed, they have very different coping mechanisms. If I told a friend who doesn’t love Jesus to stop the hussle, rest, and wait on Him, they would laugh! Those are not normal cultural reactions to deal with chaos. But God’s word reminds us, “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Helping our children to identify the struggles and take them captive to Christ will help them now and throughout their lives as they battle against the sinful world on the path the Lord has for them. We battle together! Fight on, Warrior Mamas.

— Mandy Moyer (c) September 2023

Mandy Moyer is a librarian at Chapel Hill Christian School and mama to five. She is also is a great support to The Sublime Soiree as a member of our prayer team. We are grateful for her guest blog today! For more joyful encouragement, follow Mandy @moyercircuslife on Instagram.

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