August is a popular month – hot and humid summer days, starry-filled evenings, peach harvests and, for some, back to school. And with back to school comes back to school stress. School supplies, lunches to plan, transportation to arrange, new schools, new teachers – where does it all end? You can stop the stress and begin the school year on a happier note by doing a few things to prepare:
::First and foremost – get adequate sleep. A week or two prior to school starting, depending on your family’s needs, go to bed at the time you’ll need to be fully rested for school mornings. Every stressor will be magnified and seem worse than it really is if you’re tired. Start setting bedtimes early enough to be ready to face the mornings. And speaking of mornings…
::Do as much morning prep work as possible the night before. This includes lunches, clothes, homework, book bags, signed permission slips, etc. Yes, it’s a lot to do the night before, but you’ll be thankful in the morning when you’re not scrambling to find a paper before the bus or carpool comes by.
::Get organized. Following the last idea, anything and everything you can possibly do before school even starts will lessen the stress of getting back into the routine of school. Get the school supply list and designate a place in your home where they’ll be kept. When new crayons or glue sticks are needed, you won’t have to hunt for them or run out to buy them on the way to school. Anticipate your needs and go shopping in your own designated place.
::Breakfast is non-negotiable. Sending kids to school without breakfast at all is like getting in your car and going down the road with the fuel indicator on “E.” Studies have shown that “brainy breakfasts” give children an edge in school with sharper attention, less absences and higher test scores. It’s important to fuel your kids the right way, and not with carb-filled cereals and pastries that may energize them initially, but cause blood sugar crashes that are sometimes mistaken for learning disorders. Pair healthy carbs with good protein such as:
~Scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast, and orange juice
~Yogurt, whole grain cereal, and apple slices
~Whole grain pancakes or waffles, berries, and a glass of milk
~A fruit and yogurt smoothie
~Veggie omelet, bran muffin, and yogurt
The protein in these combinations will stave off hunger before lunch, and result in a happier kid.
::Take some me time. Build in some margin that lets you catch your breath once the bus has run or the carpool has been dropped off. Even if it’s 5 minutes, practice some deep relaxing breaths and pat yourself on the back knowing you’ve done a good job in starting this school year the right way.
Being proactive and not reactive is a good rule of thumb for life in general – use it to your advantage to alleviate and maybe even eliminate the back to school drama.