Back to school is upon us, and we’re all feeling at least a little bit out of practice. With so many extra steps to take for health and safety, every household’s precious free time is feeling the squeeze. We want to help prevent all that extra emotional labor from overburdening one parent or caregiver. So, to streamline all those tasks that start when the kids are back in class (for less stress and fatigue), we’re sharing our top healthy school year tips for parents and little ones!
7 Tips for a Healthy School Year That’s Less Stressful for Parents
1. Create a command center.
Many of us have already learned to apply our best project management skills to our families and household tasks. One that works well is creating a command center as soon as you walk in the door. Have a designated spot for shoes, jackets, backpacks and school papers – one for each little one. Set up an “inbox” for things that need to be signed, artwork to be saved or displayed and other important documents.
Ideally, this would be set up in the entryway, so all the “admin” stuff gets handled as soon as you walk in the door and right before you leave again.
2. Keep the good stuff front and center.
“I’m hungry!” That after-school hunger hits hard, especially when kids and teens have early lunches and long afternoons with sports practices. To tide them over until mealtime, keep healthy foods close at hand to help end arguments over snacking.
- Stash low-sugar protein bars or packets of nuts in the car to ease those after-soccer hunger pangs.
- Keep a bowl of fresh produce on the counter, with the foods they’ll actually eat. If bananas always end up turning brown before anyone eats them, swap them for what your family members willingly gobble up. For fruits like grapes and cherries, wash and store them in a bowl in the front of the fridge, on a shelf kids can access.
- Veggies and dips (like ranch with yogurt, hummus or salsa) might be more appealing when kids are truly hungry (versus eating out of boredom). At the beginning of the week, divvy up family-size tubs of dips into single-serve containers, and fill canning jars or other containers with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks for grab-and-go snacking.
- If you enjoy baking and have time for it, high-fiber muffins packed with fruit and nuts are great “treats” that fill bellies with good nutrition at home or on the way out the door.
3. Make breakfast easy for everyone (especially you!).
How many of us have reminded our families we aren’t professional chefs – and we prefer not to cook different foods for everyone at every meal? Save the omelet bar for weekends or holidays and keep breakfast simple. Give two choices, such as: yogurt and granola with frozen berries (thawed in the microwave) and rolled oats with bananas, peanut butter and cinnamon.
If your kids are old enough to use the toaster and pour a jug of milk or juice, set up a breakfast station for them to DIY their A.M. meals.
- Group all the breakfast items for the week in one spot in the fridge.
- Hard-boil eggs for a quick savory option (or snacks).
- Keep cereal bowls and juice cups in a cupboard everyone can reach.
Don’t forget about your own morning routine to fight fatigue with more than just caffeine. Parents need healthy school year habits, too! Check your stash of Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens on Sundays, to make sure you have enough to get through the week. Thankfully, whether you choose the Colombian or Guatemalan version, they’re both smooth and delicious, with the spicy floral finish of organic red ginseng. Pro tip: Subscribe & save for a 10% discount – and peace of mind that you’ll never run out!
4. Turn packing lunches into teamwork.
Those Instagram-worthy lunch boxes with carrots cut into flowers and tea sandwiches are cute, but most of us don’t have time for that. Turn lunch-packing into a lesson in independence. Little ones can learn to make a good old PBJ, while older kids can handle more complex creations.
As with breakfast, group all the lunch items together in the refrigerator and pantry. Use clear bins, labeled with dry-erase markers, to make it easy for anyone to find lunch ingredients.
5. Take help where you can get it.
Today’s modern world might not slow down, but it does have some nice advantages – like the ability to get just about anything you need delivered to your home. Since most of us don’t have a personal assistant to help lighten our load, look for services that can help save you time during the school year. (Subscribe and save for Good Morning Sunshine™, Hello Dreams™ and anything else you use regularly is a game-changer and frees up so much mental space!)
6. Share and automate calendars and to-do lists.
As you’ve read many times on our blog, the ultimate goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine is balance. That’s also the ultimate goal for households and relationships! By finding ways to more evenly distribute the chores, tasks and responsibilities, you’ll create a more balanced relationship and life. Make this a major goal for your healthy school year “makeover,” starting with how you keep track of everything.
Create a shared calendar for the family, giving access to teens and adults. Any child old enough to use email can learn to forward important events (like the deadline for school picture payments) to both parents, so it can go on the family schedule.
You might also look into apps like Anylist, which let you share grocery and other lists with multiple people (for a small monthly or annual fee). This places the responsibility on each individual to ensure they don’t run out of shaving cream, toilet paper or orange juice.
7. Set up bedtime rituals (for mom and dad, too).
Ah, bedtime. Why is it that sleep is every grown-up’s most anticipated and (almost) every child’s least favorite time of day? Make sleep a big part of your healthy school year routine for moms, dads and kids of all ages. We all need sleep – after all, a better tomorrow starts tonight. Grown-ups can start with these 11 Things to Try to (Finally) Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
If you’re working on your sleep schedule (and who isn’t?), make Hello Dreams™ sleep strips with Melatonin & Calm Down™ herbal blend your new before-bed ritual. You have enough to remember during the day. With these, you simply slip a minty herbal strip onto your tongue about five to 10 minutes before you want to fall asleep. Let it melt, swallow and drift off. They’re formulated to help you sleep deep and awake restored, so you can do it all over again.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.