However a good friend once taught me to go on an annual or semi annual retreat and spend time praying/thinking/writing about each kid. She was in business for years and as a part of work they would have annual goal setting/vision retreats. So I have tried in some capacity over the years to take some time near the beginning and sometimes the middle of the school year to get away and do some vision/goal setting for my relationship with each kid. Some years I have actually gone away for 48 hours. Other years it has been a day here and a day there. This year it is a morning...each kid will get about 30-45 minutes.
I have a notebook set aside for each kid. I like to start by writing a letter to them highlighting some of their life since I last wrote: friends, favorite activities, fears, challenges, things they are learning/working on. Then I list everything I am thankful for in relation to that kid, in that season. Finally I spend sometime asking the Lord about this next year for that child. I write down everything I hear in prayer. My desire is to come away with 1-2 things that I should focus on for that child--goals for the year. Examples have ranged from spending more time snuggling with one of them, helping them share their toys, to teaching them tennis, working on their writing or helping them figure out their love language. Sometimes it is predictable and honestly sometimes I am surprised by what comes up in prayer regarding that child's needs for his/her emotional and relational development. Usually it helps me frame the year in the midst of the myriad of things I think they need to work on or fears of things they aren't doing but should be.
Rarely is it just about what they need to do. More often it is about where I put my energy. School, sports, friends, emotional intelligence, extra curricular activities etc...sometimes it can be overwhelming and sometimes we can just move into autopilot and sign up our kids to do the same thing they've always done. I like to take some time, ask Holy Spirit--what is this year about for this kid? It puts things into focus for me and it helps make the back to school process less overwhelming. I'm sure we all have rituals/things we do to prepare for going back to work after vacation, back to school for ourselves or for our kids. What do you do?