Heading back to school is a bit different when your kids are older. School supplies aren’t as big a deal, there are a lot more teachers in your child’s day and they have a whole lot more going on. The beginning of the academic year can be stressful no matter what age your kids are, but here are some back to school survival tips for parents of teens and tweens.
We’ve all heard about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, and it bears repeating. Self-care is huge, and it’s not easy. But staying hydrated and sticking to a sleep schedule really can make you feel better, and that makes the world feel a whole lot more manageable.
Don’t let your well run dry.
Putting your phone down for an hour before going to sleep can make it easier to stay on the aforementioned sleep schedule. Studies have shown that phone usage before bed negatively impacts the quality of sleep.
Take it a step further, though, and disconnect a bit during the day. It’s a great example for our kids – your quality of work improves when you aren’t constantly checking social media. Encourage your teens and tweens to do homework in a separate room from where their phone is but doing the same.
3. Hit the farmers market
I’ve found that visiting the farmers market is a great way to reduce my stress the past few weeks since school started. It gets me outside, I’m reminded of all the great people in my community, it makes healthy eating a bit easier.
I love that it helps me be mindful by focusing on my senses – the beautiful color of the raspberries, the smell of the flowers, the feel of the sun and cool breeze (or rain last week). It’s a great way to remember to eat your fruits and veggies and it seems like picking up a fragrant bouquet is one of life’s sweet indulgences that can remind you to savor the simple, sweet things throughout the week.
4. Have a mantra
Mantras can be great, and if you find a good on that resonates, they can serve a mini-family mission statements. One mantra I’m loving right now is “Better is good!”
I often feel like something has to be completed or get fixed right this very second. That’s often not true. I need a mantra to help me remember that things take time and progress should be celebrated. Especially with kids – they’re not going to get everything right every single time. But seeing them get better at a skill or subject or chore is good!
The corollary to this is taking things one day at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a great eighth or twelfth grade year. You don’t have to worry about May or January or even October. Do what you can do today.
My kid has been sick on two different occasions since school started. She hadn’t been sick in years. Years, I tell you! School also sent an email about an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease – in the second week of school. Getting sick is a sure fire way to make the back to school season rough. The best way to avoid the germs is wash your hands.
Make your kids wash their hands, wash your hands. Do it like Chicagoans vote – early and often.
6. Make a date with a friend
When the initial frenzy of back to school settles, make a date with a friend for a morning walk or run, coffee, lunch, whatever. Time with friends is time well spent, especially when you have tweens and teens.
7. Schedule time with your kids
Everyone is busy, of course, but it’s often during those times when we, and our kids in particular, need the touchstone of our family the most. Plan some one-on-one time, whether that’s making pancakes or walking the dog or running an errand together.
Wishing you and your whole family a wonderful school year!
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