Two things to cross off your back-to-school list (and one to add)

Grace Cowen

Whether we’re new parents (like myself), parents of high-schoolers, or experiencing your kids being away for the first time this year, the start of a new school year is a natural time for us to evaluate, reset, and reprioritize. It’s also a time of lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, and the ever-anticipated back-to-school supplies shopping list.

While we’re all running around getting things in order for the new year, I want to suggest two things to cross OFF your back-to-school shopping list this year- and one thing to ADD.

No, I’m not going to tell you to cross off spiral notebooks from your shopping list or to add the washable markers (although, YES, always go for the washable markers!) What I suggest we cross off our shopping lists this year are things that we as parents tend to carry with us into the new school year- whether we’re aware of it or not.

Two Things to Cross Off Your List

1. Expectations

We all have expectations for our kids (and ourselves). They’re not all bad- but if we’re not careful, they can get in the way of what matters most. Just last week, I was at the beach with my one-year-old son. While my EXPECTATION was that he would take his morning nap in the stroller, the REALITY was, of course, that he did not. While I could have accepted reality and moved on to enjoy our day, instead, I got stuck in my expectations and let that get in the way of being present and enjoying our time together as a family.

Back-to-school can be full of expectations. First day of school photos. Aesthetically pleasing lunch boxes. Having breakfast together before rushing to school. Wearing something besides leggings and yesterday’s T-shirt to the school pickup line.

What would it look like for us to fully embrace each day- whether or not things go as we expected? What if things go wrong and I can still have a good day with my kids? So, go ahead and cross those expectations off of your back-to-school list and let’s choose to be present instead!

2. Comparison

The start of a new year is one of the easiest times to fall into a comparison trap as parents:
Are they going to make the varsity team this year?
What about those AP classes?
Shouldn’t my kid be reading at a higher level by now?
We just couldn’t cut it to get brand new clothes this year like our neighbors did.

Here’s the good news for you today, friends. God chose YOU to be the parent or guardian of your child. God knows you and knows your child, and He can give you the strength you need for each day to be the best parent for your unique child.

Let’s start this school year with a fresh mindset. I will not compare myself to other parents, or my kid to other kids, and I am the best parent for my child!

In the midst of your timelines and to-do lists, go ahead and cross expectations and comparison right off the list. But, I do want to encourage us this school year to add ONE thing to your back-to-school shopping list- and it doesn’t even take up any more of your time.

One Thing to Add

This year, what if we chose to add intentionality to our back-to-school shopping lists?

In the midst of being our child’s chauffeur and personal chef, what if we also decided to be their champion? To focus on what matters more than anything else- our relationship with our child and with God.

There’s a moment in the Bible that I love. Moses is talking to the entire community about passing on their faith from one generation to the next.

This is what he says:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

I’m sure when some of us picture being intentional about our relationship with our child and having conversations about God at home, images of family meetings where we’re all sitting around a neatly ordered table and reading through a devotional together come to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the goal. Right now, I don’t even want to encourage you to add anything to what your family is already doing, but to be intentional with the time that you have now.

It really doesn’t get any more practical than these 4 family times that are in this verse.

When you sit at home: At meals or on the couch
When you walk along the road: Commute in the car
When you lie down: Bedtime routines
When you get up: Getting ready for the day

We can choose to be intentional about the time we already spend together with our kids- and it doesn’t have to be perfect! In fact, research shows that parents who are more likely to pass on their faith to their children are not parents who have all the answers or who have perfectly structured family dinners. They are parents who prioritize warmth- just being there for your kids and being present in the everyday moments.

Here at Real Life Kids, we’ve made it even easier for you. Each month, you can check out the website or Real Life Church app for practical ideas on how you can create these intentional everyday moments in your own rhythm.



Let’s walk into this school year together with intentionality, knowing YOU are the best parent for your child.

Our Story
Our Story

Beliefs & Values
Beliefs & Values

Our Team
Our Team

30 by 30
30 Churches by 2030

Our Team
Connect With Us

Thursday - 7 pm
Sunday - 8:30, 10 & 11:30 am