Are you (and your kids) shutting down?

I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, and it’s not just from students. It’s from teachers. It’s from parents. “I’m tired,” “I’m sick of this,” “I’m shutting down.”

It happens every year, but it doesn’t usually happen this early, so it’s got me a little concerned. Why are we all so exhausted, so impatient, so over it all? And more importantly, what can we do about it? It’s January, just the start of second semester, with 4 months left of school, so how can we change our attitudes in order to get the most out of the time we have left?

Because I need this as much as you and your kids do right now, here are five strategies for starting fresh. Share these with your kids, and practice them yourself when you need to.

1. Force yourself to stop complaining. I know, this is nearly impossible. But our behavior reflects what we say, and if we’re constantly speaking negatively, we will act negatively. Personally, I’ve found myself doing a lot of whining lately, and I’m certain it’s highly unattractive. Plus, it’s doing absolutely nothing to make me feel better about anything. Truly, other than a quick venting session to get things off our chests, it’s really not healthy to spend our days complaining.

2. Stop making the last day of school a goal. Kids’ goals are to learn as much as they can every day in preparation for their futures. So try to avoid saying, “Don’t worry, you only have four more months” because while that sounds helpful on the surface, it actually turns kids’ lives into a big countdown to something better.

3. Shake up the routine and shrug off the boredom. Do something different – and encourage your kids to join you or find their own unique experiences.  Go to dinner in the city, spend a day hiking or skiing, or find a winter activity that will challenge you. After all, your malaise may just come from being stuck in a rut.

4. Make sure you and your kids are getting fresh air and spending time outdoors, even in cold climates. Being inside all day makes kids, especially, antsy and restless. It’s amazing what an hour of fresh air can do to rejuvenate and refresh our spirits.

5. Be grateful. As bad as it may be, we can always find positives. I love the idea of keeping a grateful jar, spending time in prayer each day, or finding some way to reflect on all that is good in our lives. Passing a spirit of gratitude on to your kids is paramount to helping create happy adults.

I would tell you to hang in there, only four months of school left, but I know better. Instead I’ll just tell you to make the most of tomorrow.

For more tips like these, check out my book Teenagers 101.

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