The transition back to school can be hard on parents and kids alike. Kids might be nervous about meeting a new teacher or not having any friends in their class. Parents may be stressing about how to fit it all in – work, school, sports, homework, art classes, STEM clubs, working out, making healthy meals… the list goes on and on.
Thankfully, we’re here for you. Below is a list of tried and true tactics that help even the busiest families stay on top of it all. Start with a few and move up to trying them all. We promise you won’t regret it.
Tip #1: Pick Outfits out the Night Before
There’s nothing like your child coming to you 30-minutes before they need to be out the door complaining they have nothing to wear. That’s why it’s best to have your child pick out their clothes the night before. Not only does it make the morning run smoother, but it also gives you time to throw that basket of forgotten jeans in the wash so they are clean and ready to go. This tip is also helpful for parents as it makes for one less decision in a busy morning.
Tip #2: Become a Lunchbox Master
Sure, you can set your week up right by washing fresh fruit, cutting up raw vegetables and getting it all bagged and ready to go into lunches. But the best tip is this: MAKE THOSE LUNCHES THE NIGHT BEFORE! You can even get the kids to help and encourage them to be creative! Mini bites of veggies, nuts and cheese, salad and fruit skewers, tortilla wraps, yogurt parfaits, and quiches are all great healthy lunch ideas. If something needs to be heated up, have everything else ready so you can drop the thermos in and go.
Tip #3: Get Out Your InstaPot
Most of us grew up in the age of crockpots. And while they are still alive and well, the new hero in town is the InstaPot or all-in-one multi-cooker. Pressure cooking isn’t a new thing. The first version of one came out in 1679. But this new trend of one-pot, quick pressure cooking has many advantages that busy families love. It saves time and energy. Your food is more nutrient-dense because it preserves nutrients. Plus, it browns your meat, cooks rice, hard boils your eggs, makes homemade yogurt, and even keeps your food warm for hours. There are also a ton of healthy recipes available online. Just pick out your family favorites and go!
Tip #4: Keep Your Kids Active with an After-School Program
Even if your child isn’t super competitive, there are many after-school programs that help keep kids active. Sign them up for recreational soccer, baseball or basketball. Join a kids fitness class at the gym. Enroll them in tumbling to build strength and coordination. Take them to the local pool for open swims. Or go old-school and send them outside to ride their bikes and play. The key is to keep their bodies active and help them blow off any stress from the day.
Tip #5: Create a Schedule that Allows Time for Snack, Relaxation, and Play
While scheduling free time may seem like you’re just giving everyone another thing to do, it actually helps your kids (and you) avoid the “zoned-out-in-front-of-a-screen” mode that many of us fall victim to. Create a schedule that has a set time for a snack, homework, relaxation, play and screens. It’s also a great idea to schedule some set “family time” where everyone puts away distractions and talks to each other about their day!
Tip #6: Follow Regular Bedtime Routines
Kids thrive on routine. Believe it or not, your body loves a set bedtime and wake-up time, too. To help you get the best sleep, try putting down any screens at least an hour before bed to give your mind time to relax before you try to sleep. Remember, how long you sleep is just as important as how well. Three to six-year-olds should get around 10-12 hours of sleep a night, seven to twelve-year-olds should aim for 10-11 hours a night, and twelve to eighteen-year-olds should try to get 8-9 hours a night.