How to Navigate Your Emotions on the First Day of School
There’s nothing like the first day of school to bring on a massive flood of parental emotions.
In other words, all the feels…
These emotions run the gamut of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good emotions:
We see how much our children have grown when we take our obligatory first day of school pictures (or second day if you’re a hot mess like me). This gives us all the feels.
We drop them off on the first day and we see how they are a little more independent than last year. They exit the car a little quicker, they give us hugs in the hallway instead of the classroom, and they walk into their classroom without so much as a backward glance. This definitely gives us all the feels.
We grieve the summer that was so full of quality family time coming to an end, as we exchange it for the hustle and bustle of a new school year. Again, all. the. feels.
All of these emotions are completely understandable. And honestly, they are good.
Here is how the “good feels” or positive emotions help us:
They teach us that time is a thief and we need to be sure that we are numbering our days.
- Teach us to number our days,that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
- Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
In realizing how short life truly is, we are compelled to love our people well, to serve our families graciously, and to be more gentle with our kids.
- We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19
- Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (The Message)
We recognize how faithful God truly is to have taken care of our family up to this point and our faith grows.
- Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
- Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.
But what about those other emotions?
You know the ones I’m talking about.
The ones that creep in when we look around at all of the “got their act together” families at school drop off, when we fill out the overwhelming amount of forms sent home at open house, or when we simply find that quiet moment to ourselves after we have dropped our children off on that very first day of school.
The emotions that none of us want to admit we feel.
The bad and the ugly feels, aka negative emotions:
NONE of these emotions come from God.
The onslaught of these negative emotions is actually one of Satan’s best tactics against us.
And what better time to hit us with all of these toxic emotions than when we’re already experiencing ALL. THE. FEELS as we drop our precious children off for their first day of school.
Here is how the “bad or ugly feels” (or negative emotions) hurt us:
Instead of learning to number our days with wisdom, we’re busy numbering the dollars in our bank accounts and the grids on our calendar in an attempt to keep up with everyone around us.
We feel jealous of all of the monogrammed lunch boxes and the perfectly posed first day of school pictures. We worry that we are not giving our kids enough- we feel embarrassed that they are still wearing last year’s worn out uniform shoes because they still fit. We bemoan that fact that we don’t have it all together like other families.
We feel anxious that we need to sign them up for every sport and extracurricular activity, so our children will keep up socially and developmentally with all of their peers. Then, when we realize how much time and money this will cost us, our anxiety level skyrockets even higher.
Instead of simply being compelled to love our families well, we feel overcome with guilt and discontentment.
We feel guilt over how much we have to work, and then not being fully “present” when we actually are home with our family.
We feel guilty for not engaging our kids with the Bible. We make time for other activities, but the Bible and devotional reading always just seem to fall through the cracks.
We feel discontent with our children’s behavior, attitude, motivation or performance, as we look around and see the polished versions of their friends. And this of course leads to guilt and discontentment with our parenting skills, or lack thereof.
Instead of trusting in God, we are fear-ridden as we enter this new school year.
We fear for our children’s health when we look around at their peers and compare their growth (physically, academically, socially, etc.).
We fear for our children’s safety when we hear about all of the crazy violence in our world today.
We fear that our kids won’t make any friends in their new classes this year.
We fear that we’re totally failing at this parenting thing…
And these are just a few of the lies he has had me entertaining over the years. I could come up with so many more and so could you.
This is the exact rabbit trail of emotions Satan wants us on.
He wants our heads spinning with the little things.
He wants our hearts overwhelmed with the big things.
What is supposed to be a beautiful, albeit emotional, first day of school can quickly turn into a panic-stricken day of navigating raw and deceptive emotions, all the while calculating the sum of our lives and all of our perceived shortcomings.
Satan wants our eyes fixed on ourselves, our children, and our circumstances instead of the only thing that matters: Jesus.
The best thing you can do on the first day of school this year is to
keep you’re eyes fixed squarely on Jesus.
Don’t let the first day of school steal your peace. Don’t let it steal your joy. This is EXACTLY what Satan is counting on. Don’t give him a foothold here.
Make the decision to keep your heart and mind focused on God and His truth, instead of buying into the lies these negative emotions tell you about your family, your circumstances, and even your imperfection.
- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Satan frequently waits just around this corner in an attempt to trip me up with toxic emotions. He knows where and when I’m most vulnerable. I’m slowly learning to assess all the feels and in this, I am learning to trust God more fully.
This year I am choosing to use those powerful first day of school emotions as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and a catalyst to make the coming days count as I work to love my family well this school year. I hope you’ll join me in this!
- My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.