With school getting back into full swing, your kids may be struggling a bit with the new schedule and routine. Transition back to school when it still feels like summer can be difficult, so here are five ways to get your child back into a smooth routine so this transition can be easier for all involved!
- Prepare for a smooth morning
The morning hustle in any home with school-aged children can be epic. Doing as much as you can the night before will help make the morning less hectic and stressful. Have your kids lay out their clothes for the next day. Have a corner of the fridge and/or pantry where they set aside their breakfast for the morning. Some healthy, quick ideas are a protein shake, Greek yogurt with berries, or baked egg muffin. Whatever they choose, make sure they feed their brains before taking off for school. Have them organize and set their backpacks by the door, all assignments tucked away and ready to be turned in. Help them go through their agenda for the next day so that they can be mentally prepared for whatever is coming their way.
- Feed their minds with healthy nutrition all day
We talked about getting healthy food in the mornings before their school day starts. They should continue to eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to keep their brains working optimally. Avoid sugar crashes by avoiding high-carb and high-sugar meals and snacks. This includes breakfast cereals, muffins, bagels, heavy breads, and of course, sweets like cookies or candy. Instead make sure they are getting healthy proteins and fats, along with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. With every food choice, I like to ask, “is this going to help my body and mind function at its very highest potential? Or is this going to make me feel shaky, unfocused or tired?” If your child’s school lunches are not fitting the bill, consider sending a home-packed lunch so you can make sure they are getting the best possible nutrition to keep their bodies and minds on track.
- Be efficient with homework
Since bedtime starts at dinnertime (spoiler alert! See #4 below), you’ll want your kids getting their school assignments done before dinner starts. When they get home from school, let them have a 15-min unwinding break with a protein-rich snack like hummus and celery or apples and nut butter. Then have them get right to work. If focus during homework time is an issue, try diffusing peppermint oil with lemon oil. This is a great combination for keeping their minds on task.
- Bedtime starts at dinnertime
Try to have dinner consistently at the same time each evening, with the bedtime routine closely following. With sports and activities, I know this can be hard, but just try your best. Keep the lights dim in the home starting with dinner. While it’s still bright out, this includes closing shutters to keep the daylight out. After eating, have a no-screen-time rule. The blue light emitted from TVs, smartphones and tablets messes with kids’ circadian rhythms and tricks their bodies into wanting to stay awake. Couple the effect of the blue light with the power of the excitement-provoking games or videos, and you get wide-awake kids. Instead of screen time, play relaxing music, have them take a calming bath or shower, and encourage them to color or journal in order to process the day and get their minds ready for sleep. Pick a bedtime that ensures your kids get enough sleep. Here are some general guidelines:
Preschool: 10-13 hours, including naps
Grade School: 9-12 hours
Adolescents: 8-10 hours
- Help them sleep well
Falling asleep is hard for some kids, so I like to take a holistic approach to calming the mind and getting great quality and quantity of sleep. Giving your child magnesium in the evening just after dinner can be calming to the mind and body. This can be given orally as a supplement (usually a powder you mix in liquid), as an oil you rub on the legs and feet, or as Epsom salts in the bath. It is relaxing and helps prepare the mind for a restful night. Essential oils can also help your child fall asleep. You can diffuse lavender, vetiver sandalwood or cedarwood essential oil in their room (with doors always open to maintain air flow). These same oils can be diluted with a carrier oil (like coconut or sweet almond oil) and massaged onto the feet. Older kids may need help shutting off their minds, so encourage them to spend at least 10 minutes meditating in the evening. There are some great apps available to help get them started!
Incorporating these 5 tips should get your kids and the whole family back on a school-year routine. Wishing you all the best school year!
|Dr. Jamilet Alegria, M.D., joined the CentreSpring MD team of providers in the fall of 2016 after spending years as a Pediatric Hospitalist at both CHOC Children’s in Orange County and at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Inpatient Pediatrics Unit in Southern California.|
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit with Dr. Jamilet Alegria, M.D..