The summer is ending, which means new routines, morning rush and back to school. For many of us, it means a more frenetic lifestyle, getting the kids ready in the morning, dropping them off, picking them up, after school activities, homework, etc.

The transition back to school is an opportunity to reflect and introduce new ways of doing things as couples and parents. You can start by sitting with your partner and making a list of things that you’d like to change from the year before with respect to your relationship. Then do the same thing with your kids.

Knowing what you don’t want is an important start. That sets the stage for creating intentions for what you do want.

It is so easy to get sucked into the fast-paced routine that the days fly by and you feel like you’re just knocking the ping-pong balls back and forth without even thinking.

Once you are in the groove, it becomes a lot harder to put down the paddle and step back. That’s why this is a unique opportunity to do so before the balls start flying again.

I recommend that you consider thinking about the following three things with respect to your relationship and your kids:

  • Have dinners together as a family. It is a natural opportunity to connect, bond and ask your kids about their days at school. If your kids are too young to ask about their days, it is still a habit that I highly recommend cultivating.
  • Date night. Make it a priority to have time for the two of you on a regular basis.
  • Check in with your partner and with your kids regularly. Make it part of your routine. Don’t assume you’ll just tell each other what’s going on. It won’t happen.

Make your own list though. Do what you need to do to remind yourselves like setting reminders on your phones.

Change is a messy process. There’s always a pull back to the status quo. There are always steps forwards and steps back. In my work with people, I approach most issues with the formula of identifying what the issues are, understanding why they exist, where they come from, and the function(s) they serve, and then formulating a plan for change.

I just released a new free mini-course on changing habits in your relationship that are keeping you stuck. If you’re interested, you can check it out here: Changing Habits Mini-Course.

David B. Younger, Ph.D is the creator of Love After Kids, for couples that have grown apart since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couples therapist with a web-based private practice, and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, 12-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old toy poodle.

Originally published at