The transition back into the academic year is often a bittersweet time for many. For kids and college students, it signifies the end of flexible schedules for traveling, sleeping in or earning some money and work experience. Yet, it also means you’ll be reunited with friends and, thus, with all the social commitments that come with that. For parents, it’s both a relief to know that for 8-9 hours of the day, you don’t have to worry about where your kids are or what they’re up to, but you also must be more rigorous about the morning and night-time routines, packed lunches and coordinating multiple people’s schedules in one day. All this excitement can be overwhelming for anyone, so here are a few ways to mitigate the madness that is back-to-school season.
Ask for Help
Whether it comes from your partner or spouse, a close friend that you trust or even your kids; help is a must to get through the day. Plan ahead with your partner for who is picking up and dropping of the kids when and where before the start of the week. If your children are old enough, have them pack their own lunches (with your specific guidelines for them) the night before – this is also an easy way to avoid the classic “I didn’t like what you packed for me issue.” If something comes up at work that requires you to stay later than planned, have a close friend or family member on speed dial that you know can help you pick up the kids or drop them off at extra curriculars if need be.
Become the Student
What this really means is being as involved as possible in the scholastic life of your child. Know what the classroom and homework rules and expectations are for the year. This will keep you, your child and their teachers on the same page and avoid confusion, missed assignments and possibly even angry letters. This can be done by simply making it a rule that assignments for the week are posted on the fridge or a central location in your home every Monday so that there are no excuses for letting them slip your mind.
This holds for parents and kids alike. Knowing when to say “no” to invitations to volunteer, chaperone or attend PTA meetings is important not just for your mental health as a parent, but also to ensure that when you do have free time, you are spending it on what matters – family and self-care. Try not to overschedule your kids, either. While extracurriculars and athletics are important for raising well-rounded and globally-conscious children, instilling the importance of having down time to just chill with friends, play outside or explore more organically occurring interests can never happen too early in a child’s life.
For College Students
Get Into a Healthy Routine Early
Once classes start up, it can be easy to fall into the trap of all-nighters and sleeping in too late. Being cognizant of your sleeping patterns in the summer – when you still have a chance to adjust them – is one of the best things you can do for your mental health and academic acumen. Two to three weeks before you move in, start going to bed a little earlier and earlier each night. Of course, there may be some times during the school year when late nights are unavoidable and sleeping in is well-deserved, but having a sense of regularity for your sleeping patterns can bring balance to the rest of your day.
Students spend a large amount of their days sitting down, whether they’re in class or studying in libraries and cafes. A stationary lifestyle is a risk factor for a host of chronic and acute conditions, including obesity and deep vein thromboses. Not to mention, staring at a screen or book all day without any breaks in between would give most people cabin fever. Try to get outside or to a gym, even if it’s just for a 30-minute interval, or take a walk around the campus. Fresh air and a rush of adrenaline can provide bursts of energy that restore you in a way regular caffeine cannot. Also make sure to use some of those breaks to catch up with those friends you’re so glad to be reunited with!