Going back to school at the end of summer marks a time of change from play to work - from summer to fall. This change comes with new routines to fit a new schedule. This fall when getting kids back to the books, try a few small, manageable tricks to keep everyone healthy and productive this school year.
Eat breakfast. It’s easy to skip breakfast when our mornings start earlier, we press the snooze button too long, and we have an overall hectic start to the day. However, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In order to have enough energy and focus, we must fuel our bodies and our minds. Try making and packing breakfast the night before or even consider taking something healthy on the go, such as oatmeal with fruit.
Pack healthy lunches. It may be convenient to pack a prepackaged meal in the morning, but eating minimally processed foods is a hallmark of good nutrition. Limit unrecognizable ingredients and added sugars…even juice! Try to pack food in a variety of colors to ensure a good mix of vitamins and a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. Foods that are white in color tend to be higher on the glycemic index, have less nutrients, and won’t keep you full for long. Try making your own bento box style lunch with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
Add activity to your day. There are easy ways to incorporate light or fun physical activity into your existing schedule. Getting moving improves focus and will help with adjusting to an earlier bedtime. A few ideas to try include walking to school, walking the dog, doing afternoon yardwork, playing outside (playing catch, shooting hoops, etc.), or even a neighborhood post-dinner bike ride.
Limit screen time. It may be tempting to avoid homework or get away from the demands of the day by watching a few hours of television. However, this habit can take away from productive time spent accomplishing school tasks, doing something outside or with friends, getting prepared for the next day, or even limiting sleep time. Instead, limit the amount of screen time per day to ensure that you get time to catch up on shows, but it doesn’t interfere with other things.
Establish a sleep routine. Going back to school in the fall often means shifting your sleep habits to go to bed and wake up earlier. Make this adjustment gradually in the days leading up to the first day of school by going to bed 30 minutes earlier each night. Be sure to establish a constant sleep and wake time and stay on that schedule, even through the weekends and holidays.
Create a homework routine. It’s hard to get back into doing work, but it’s easier if you dedicate a specific time and place to get it done each day. Create a special area free of distraction for homework and try to complete it at the same time every day. Also, by keeping a routine and planning ahead there is less likelihood of late night project finishing.
Going back to school is never easy, but these few tips will make the transition smooth and (relatively) painless.