By Russell Carstens
The back to school season is hectic enough for kids, let alone parents. Keep your mental health in check during the transition with the following suggestions:
Establish good homework habits. As the Tao Te Ching advises, handle things while they are small. Upon getting home, homework is not yet a pressing issue. Keep it that way. After dinner and close to bedtime, it will become one. Speak to your children about the benefits of completing homework first thing. They have the rest of the day ahead of them, and they are still in work mode. Take advantage of that momentum.
Consider summer learning programs. Students can forget what they’ve learned during the year over summer break. Enrolling in a program for maintenance or enrichment will keep their skills sharp and attitude motivated. This makes for a more smooth changeover back to school. Thus, less dependency on you to assist with homework and projects.
Carpool. If possible, do so in rotation with other parents. Save time and gas. This can free up time for yourself or other morning/afternoon priorities. Plus, you’re being kinder to the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.
Purchase supplies in advance to avoid the first week rush. After the first few days of school, office supply stores are a frenzy. Items your children need may be out of stock. As a result, they are already starting the year off behind. Again, stock up ahead of time to avoid issues. You can save money by purchasing notebooks, etc at non-office supply stores.
Eat healthy. Eating at least one well-balanced meal a day with water will complement your overall well-being. Oatmeal is a simple breakfast that can be made by kids in a snap without your help. Plus, the fiber content fills them up. Avoid the lure of sugary soft drinks, as they carry virtually no nutritional value.
Monitor your caffeine intake and stay hydrated. One or two cups of joe will give you the jolt needed to put a spring in your morning step. But avoid excess caffeine, which can lead to anxiousness, dehydration and other negative side effects. Instead, drink water throughout the day. If you aren’t a regular water drinker, you’d be surprised at how much more energy you have by switching over from coffee or soda. The more hydrated you are, the less hard your organs have to work. You then have more energy to expend.
Get plenty of rest. This is one of the most important parts of maintaining your mental health. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Being under-rested makes you more prone to moodiness and less effective. Some people need more sleep than others. Generally, aim to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you can get more, great, but don’t overdo it. You may be familiar with the lingering drowsiness that sticks throughout the day after ten-plus hours in the bed.
A body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion. Balance it out.
By Russell Carstens