Author(s): Ann Stuursma, Tara Velting

Get organized, get the kids to bed · and get everyone to breakfast

ITS BACK-TO-SCHOOL TlME – the perfect time to set up healthier school-day routines at home. Consider these your “new school year resolutions” for minimizing stress and maximizing weIl·being. Here are seven strategies:

  1. Organize the night before. A mad morning rush gives everyones day a stressful start. Skip the drama by taking a few unhurried minutes in the evening to load backpacks and lay out school clothes. Are there forms to be signed? Do snacks or lunches need packing? .
  2. Set a bedtime and stick to it. School children need nine to 11 hours of sleep. Kids who don’t wake easily, often seem irritable or lack daytime energy need more sleep. Sleep is important for many things, from overall growth to learning and concentration at school. Help kids wind down quietly before lights-out.
  3. Make breakfast. lf your child hasn’t eaten since dinner the night before, there’s no energy to draw from – the gas tank is empty. Kids learn better with food in their stomachs. Kids who eat breakfast are leaner because they’re not as likely to snack on high—calorie, Iow—nutrient foods later in the day.
  4. Learn what’s up. Ask open-ended questions, such as “What were the best and the hardest parts about today?” Kids are more apt to open up about problems if you show interest.
  5. Teach safety. Think through your child’s day from the moment he or she leaves for school to the time he or she gets home. How can he or she stay safe · from wearing a bike helmet to avoiding strangers to keeping doors locked at home?
  6. Spell out expectations. Discuss appropriate classroom behavior, a homework policy, balancing social time and schoolwork, and grade goals. Set the path for them and they’ll know when they’re on track.
  7. Practice relaxation. lt’s important for everybody to have some downtime, even children. As you sign kids up for sports and other activities, ask yourself: “Whose needs are being met – mine or my child’s?”

Healthy Living Magazine Fall 2009

For more information, contact Ann Stuursma and Tara Velting.