Whether or not your kids are still getting into the routine of school, it's never too late to start thinking about how we can make this year successful and low-stress, both for our kids and ourselves. With that, here are five things parents should stop doing to make this school year the best one yet.
1. You do your kid's homework for them.
It's a familiar scene: your little one at the kitchen table, frustrated and unfocused on their math assignment that they just can't figure out. Or their reading project that's so boring.
It's all too easy to want to jump in, give the answers, and finish things on your kid's behalf. Because let's be honest: it's quick. It's easy parenting for you. It's a way to stop the complaining, and then your kid will get a good grade, right? I encourage you to stop doing your kid's homework.
What will happen if you don't? Maybe they won't finish it, and they get to learn a lesson in responsibility when their teacher confronts them. Maybe they'll figure it out on their own, and that's exactly what they should be doing. Or maybe they'll get the answers wrong and have a little learning to do.
Lend a helping hand to encourage them in the right direction once in awhile, but put the number two pencil down, parents. You've already been through school.
2. You over-enroll them in sports and activities.
Got a little dude who loves baseball and soccer? Great, sign him up for both if he's truly dedicated and interested in both sports. But I urge you not to fill up your kids' schedules with every activity and sport available just for the sake of enriching their lives.
It's good to get them interested in a variety of things, but kids can also be overwhelmed with a full calendar of things to do with little downtime to just be. Besides, all of that running around after school can be really stressful for you as a parent.
Stick with a couple of activities your kids truly love and devote your time to those; don't collect guilt from other over-planning parents just because little Audrey isn't in gymnastics AND Tae Kwon Do AND the math club AND drama AND ballet like Jessica next door. Jessica sounds like she needs a nap.
3. You obsessively email their teacher.
These days, it's way too easy to shoot off a quick email to your kid's teacher about this or that. Is Jack doing OK today with his social skills? Can he be seated further away from Ian, because they just talk all day and you know Jack just isn't paying attention? Did he finish his lunch today or did he trade it for a Twinkie?
I get it — I've done it, too. But step away from the laptop, keyboard crusaders. Your kid is fine and their fully capable teacher will let you know if there's anything she feels you should be aware of in class.
Remember back when we were kids? No email. How often do you think our parents were sending hand-written notes to the teacher? Let's let the teachers do their jobs and focus on the kids, not their email inbox.
4. You volunteer for everything.
OK, this one is a touchy one. Let me start by saying that I firmly believe every parent should volunteer for something at their child's school. It's good for the school, your kids love seeing you and having your involvement, and it just plain makes you feel good to help.
That said, beware of over-committing yourself, too. If you give an hour of your time once or twice a month and that feels right, that's fantastic. But don't take on huge projects that will have you stressed out and over-committed. Know your limits.
Just because you want to be helpful doesn't mean your schedule always allows for it. Be prepared to have to say no sometimes in order to keep your sanity. Do what you can to help, but don't feel guilty for not running for PTA president.
5. You compare yourself to other parents.
So you've conquered the whole not-comparing-your-kid-to-other-kids thing, but what about yourself? Are you feeling guilty because you're not the Little League coach this year? You don't make your kid read for 30 minutes every night? You only brought a container of strawberries for the class party when the other moms made Pinterest-worthy cupcakes frosted with rainbow fondant they hand-rolled themselves?
So what? Give yourselves a break, moms and dads. Do your best, love your kids, let them know you're there and that you care. Do those things. You're great. Stop feeling less-than. Be a little easier on yourself and on your kiddos. Your kids, and you, will benefit.
Follow Gina on her blog, The Dynamom.
This article was originally published at scarymommy.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.