In a lot of ways it’s been a productive summer. We’ve managed to practice our reading and writing pretty consistently, which has me feeling good about the kids heading back to school. In other ways, most notably bed times, we’ve totally dropped the ball. After coming back from a lengthy road trip, which involved a lot of time with kids napping in the car, my six year olds currently have a bed time that rivals many adults, and now back to school is upon us. Some bad habits have snuck up on all of us, so now seems like a good time to get organized, re-group, and focus on making some positive changes as we begin to pack book bags, lunches, and sharpen our pencils.
September holds a similar feeling to New Years in the way that it’s a great time to start some resolutions and focus on making some positive changes, whether it’s as an individual or as a family. Here are some sample September “Resolutions” that will help everyone get back into the groove of better, healthier, and more productive habits for the year to come:
Earlier Bed Times For Everyone
If you’ve let bed time get out of hand like I have, you might also be staying up later than you should as a grown up to compensate for your little one staying up later. Even 15 minutes earlier a night for everyone will make a big difference.
Limit Screen Time
Make at least the last half hour before bed, screen free time for everyone. While all of us enjoy unwinding a bit in the evening with some mindless entertainment, it’s a good idea to limit late night binge watching. A 2014 study revealed that screen time not only shortened the amount of sleep, but it also delayed it each night. This is particularly important since most adolescents (and adults for that matter) have at least one electronic device in their room. Consider creating a universal time when everyone parks and recharges their phone and/or laptop each evening (outside of where they sleep) to avoid temptation, or even put their devices on Do Not Disturb so they’re not tempted to peek when a notification pings.
Eat Breakfast – Every Day
Your mother was right, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Going to school with no gas in the tank will impact a child’s ability to learn, and will also impact you, your metabolism, and your work day. While it would be nice to have an elaborate, hot cooked meal every morning, that’s not always possible. Consider whipping up some muffins on the weekend, looking up some healthy and easy recipes you and your kids will enjoy, or giving your child some squeezable unsweetened applesauce or fresh fruit and yogurt that they can take on the go.
The school year is a marathon, not a race. Be mindful of that and consider staggering extracurricular activities for your child. Starting a new program in October instead of the first week of school will allow everyone to get back into the swing of things without feeling overwhelmed – the same goes for the adults!
Always Be Prepared
Ten minutes at night can save time and stress each morning. By packing lunches and laying out clothes the night before, mornings will be easier. Plus this preparation can be a part of your screen free time before bed. Meal planning before hitting the grocery store each week can take the guess work out of dinner time and emergency trips to the corner store for supplies.
Teach Your Kids To Do It Themselves
Kids can do a lot more than we give them credit for. Allow them to get themselves dressed, pack their lunches, and get ready for their day with a little assist from you when necessary. It’s our job to prepare our kids as well as protect them. A little extra work now will give them the life skills they need to cope in years to come when mom or dad aren’t packing them a sandwich or folding their laundry.
Remember to Practice Self-Care
Reward yourself and your children with a new book, some meditation, or a fun weekend day trip to remind everyone that just because summer is coming to an end, play is still on the agenda. I’m adding reading time four nights a week to my regular, soon to be earlier, bedtime routine. My kids always sleep better after story time, so why not try that for the grown-ups too?
Happy September everyone!