15 Ways to Kick Off a Healthier Back-to-School Routine

Twenty20


Twenty20

By Nancy Barber

Bouncing back from the lazy days of summer can be tricky. Whether it was waking up later or tossing a frozen waffle in the toaster and calling breakfast, there was more time and leeway with things like sleep and healthy eating. Now that school's back in session, the hustle has made its way back to mornings, what with kids to dress and nutritious lunches to pack. Here are 15 ways to make the transition back to healthier habits easier as you and the fam get fired up for fall.

  • Limit Screen Time

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    It's challenging for adults as well as kids, but limiting "fun" screen time can help make for a healthier transition back into the school year. The time spent on computers for school work can't be avoided, but you can set limits for anything in addition to that. Instead of playing games on a smart device, encourage your kid to read a book or do homework. It will help the focus shift from using screens as a method of distraction to a method of education.

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  • Create a Calm Bedroom Environment

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    Ensure that your children's bedrooms are set up for a sound night of sleep. It's important for all of us to get a good night's sleep, but it's especially important for anyone attending school. Remove any distractions, such as phones or TVs. Check that any external lights are blocked by shades on the windows. Stick to a consistent bedtime, and your kid will be well-rested for school after a good night's sleep.

  • Keep Kids Active

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    Whether it's enrolling in a dance class on the weekends or signing up for an after-school sport, ensure that your child is engaged in some sort of physical activity. Burning off extra energy on a consistent basis can help keep your kid healthy and focused. The outlet of a sport or activity can benefit you, too. Kids won't come home bouncing off the walls and too distracted to complete their homework. It's a win-win situation!

  • Create a 'Landing Zone'

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    This is more for your mental health than anything else, but that matters, too! To help keep everything organized before the school year gets well underway, designate a spot somewhere in your home to be a "landing zone." When your kids come home with paperwork from school that needs your attention -- field trip permission slips, health forms, report cards -- they can place it all in the landing zone. Everything is centralized in one location to make finding items easier. The actual time needed to get through all the papers? That's another story!

  • Create a 'Homework Zone'

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    Similar to the landing zone, this is an area in your home that is dedicated to -- you guessed it -- homework! It can be difficult to get your child to focus on completing work after spending all day at school, but you can find ways to make it easier on yourself. Dedicate a space to your kid's learning. Make sure it is well lit with a comfortable chair and table or desk, where your child can work. It should be a quiet space that is free of distractions. The homework zone should also have necessary supplies, such as pencils, paper, or rulers.

  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast

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    It's good advice for us all, but it can be hard to follow during hectic mornings when everyone is trying to get out the door to school and work. There are easy ways to ensure that everyone leaves home full of proper nourishment. Prep smoothie ingredients the night before so that all you have to do is whip it up the next morning. Pack your smoothies with fruits and veggies to have a nutritious breakfast. Whole-grain cereals or whole-grain toast are great options as well. Avoid sugary cereals or yogurts, which will result in your kid crashing several hours into the school day.

  • Pack a Healthy Lunch

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    After having a healthy breakfast at home, the next step is to have a healthy lunch at school! Have your children help you prepare a lunch for them the night before. It will help set up a routine that alleviates the frantic energy of the morning as well as teach your children responsibility. Pack nutritious options that will ensure energy levels stay high for a full day of learning. Don't forget to pack an afternoon snack, too!

  • Stay Hydrated

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    It's such a simple thing, but make sure that your child drinks water all day long. It's so important to drink plenty of water, and you can make that happen morning, noon, and night. Give your kid a glass of water with breakfast and dinner. For all day at school, get your kid a fun, cool water bottle. They can pick it out themselves! Fill it up before sending your kid off to school so that water is accessible for the entire day of learning.

  • Follow a Schedule

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    Getting into a rhythm both before and after school can help make the day easier to follow. You can write out a list of everything that needs to be completed in the morning and at night, and the kids can follow along as they complete everything. Place the list somewhere visible so that it's easy to spot. Whether it's by the front door or in the kitchen, it can be a schedule for all to know and follow. If a list isn't the best option, try a visual alternative! Use a clock to color code certain chunks of time that should be used for certain tasks. For example, purple chunks from 3 p.m.-4 p.m. signify homework time. Something that's easy for your kid (and you!) to follow will make the routine even easier.

  • Stick to the Rules

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    It can be very hard to be a parent, and sometimes the hardest moments are when it's time to discipline. If your kid is breaking the rules about limited screen time or refusing to go to bed on time, then those are the moments when consequences need to happen. Whether it's removing screens entirely or taking away allowance, kids need to learn that not following the rules you've set can result in a punishment. This will instill a sense of responsibility in following the routines that you've laid out and thus ensure an easier start to the school year.

  • Save Time for Yourself

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    To help keep your sanity and stay calm during the hectic school year, protect a chunk of time for you, yourself, and I. Whether it's waking up 15 minutes earlier for coffee or waking up a full hour earlier for exercise, take some time to take care of yourself. If you're not a morning person, then switch to the evening. While your child is settled into "homework time" or after they've headed to bed, use that time to watch programs you want to watch or take a long bath. Utilizing small pockets of time can help you feel rested and refreshed.

  • Ease Anxiety

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    Some of the back-to-school worries can be eased before they build to an uncontrollable level. Fears about making friends and settling into the classroom are normal for those going back to school. However, don't let them get the best of your children. Take the time to address your child's concerns, and listen with an open mind. Express confidence in your child's abilities, and offer reassurance that back-to-school jitters are normal and will pass with time.

  • Show Some Love

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    Sometimes, simply listening and discussing concerns about school with your kid will not be enough. It can be hard to get into the swing of things after a summer of fun. Do what you can to alleviate your child's concerns by letting them know that you love them, no matter what. If school feels overwhelming, reassure your child that it will get better as time goes by and that you will be there to help every step of the way. A little love goes a long way.

  • Celebrate Successes

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    If your kid gets an A on their first test of the school year or makes a friend in class, celebrate those moments! Make a fuss, even if it seems over the top. It's important to recognize small achievements and create a sense of confidence in your children. Your encouragement is the best way to do that and set a healthy tone for the upcoming school year.

  • Don't Forget About Family Time

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    Time spent together is vital for a healthy family lifestyle. Everyone can get trapped in their own routines and never find time to connect with each other, even though you all live together! Find a slot of time, whether it's daily or weekly, for your family to connect. It can be weekend excursions or weekly dinners. It's important to give each other a chance to share what's been happening at school or talk about upcoming events. Everyone can share and be "in the know" about each other's lives!

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