Labour day is just around the corner, and with it comes the promise of early mornings, homework, and busy schedules. For a lot of folks, back to school time is filled with a certain kind of stress that starts in September and doesn’t let up until summer.
Being in the business of integrated healthcare, all of our practitioners can attest to how huge a role stress plays in everything from recovering from injuries to digestive issues. Learning to create a low-stress – or, better yet, stress-free – environment for your family as the seasons change has the potential to create a much healthier, happier year.
Below we’ve shared 5 tips to help you over the hump of back-to-school.
Tip #1 - Start now
You may have a week of summer vacation left, but waiting until the last minute to switch up your schedule is destined for disaster. Humans are highly habitual beings, and once we get into a groove we really, really don’t like to change it.
Take meals, for instance. If your summer has been full of leisurely breakfasts and Spanish-style late-night dinners, it might be time for a more traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner regime.
If the kids (and/or you) have been staying in their pyjamas until noon, now’s probably a good time to have them practice picking out their clothes the night before, and getting showered & dressed when they wake up.
And if summer bedtimes have crept and hour or two from where they are the rest of the year, use this week to start gentle course correction. Which leads us to our next piece of advice…
Tip #2 - Ease into it
The aforementioned course correction will only work if it is, in fact, gentle. Jumping into all things at once has a greater chance of producing a lot of unhappiness, and sending you back to your summer ways because – let’s be honest – they’re way more fun.
Integrate one thing at a time: focus on three square meals a day for the first couple of days of the week, without touching anything else.
Change bed-time by 15 minutes a day, instead of all at once.
Tie back-to-school clothes shopping with the no-PJs after 9 am rule, so that it feels more like a reward than a punishment.
Even when school starts, try to leave yourself a week or two activity-free. The extra breathing room will give you a chance to integrate back into the swing of school and work.
Tip #3 - Plan ahead
Mornings in particular seem to be challenging for families: there are multiple mouths to feed, bodies to dress, and people to be delivered at various institutions on time. Luckily, a little bit of prep work goes a long way.
Try getting breakfast ready ahead of time, having clothes laid out the night before, and getting ready for bed with plenty of time for teeth-brushing and stories. You’ll be amazed by how smoothly things run in the morning.
Tip #4 - Let weekends be weekends
It seems crazy to have to remind ourselves to slow down on the weekend, but today’s world is packed chock-a-block with activities and outings.
Make sure to give your self and your kids a real break – turn off the computers and devices, go for a walk in the woods, play a board game, or sit around in your pyjamas and read. Remind yourself – and your family – that time off is every bit as important as time on.
Tip #5 - Don’t worry too much if you do nothing on this list
It’s hilarious and a little sad that so many people today actually get stressed out about needing to de-stress. These tips are intended to support you and your family, and get you set up for an easier fall, but they’re ultimately only as useful as you let them be.
You could do everything on this list, but be so worried about covering all your bases that you’re still frantic come the first day of school. Conversely, you could do nothing to prep for the school year and have a totally relaxing fall. It’s all about your mindset.
So take a moment to notice the leaves as they start to change colour, and a big breath of air that’s growing cooler and crisper every day, and enjoy your fall.