Getting back into the school routine can be tough for older students and their parents. Everyone must readjust to early mornings, long academic days, homework, activities, and so on. The stress of juggling so much can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary tension. However, there are ways for students and their families to keep a balanced and healthy schedule when getting back to school and maintain it throughout the year.
The key to achieving a reasonable schedule for older students and parents is to start before the school year begins. The more preparation that takes place before the first day of school, the easier it is for all family members to balance and adjust to the busy schedule.
Make a Calendar
A family calendar can make a big difference when it comes to scheduling during the school year, especially with older students who may have several extracurricular activities. Most school calendars and sports practices are posted over the summer, so families can add “known” events and their dates to the shared calendar before the first day of school. As the year progresses, families can have a “submission” day each week to update the calendar with more specific information.
Last-minute schedule changes will happen, but overall a regularly updated family calendar will help all members have a general idea of what to expect each week. This allows for routine planning and time management, which will decrease overall family stress.
One of the downsides of back-to-school is that with the long, filled days there is less time for preparing and enjoying family meals. Breakfast can be chaotic with everyone getting ready, and many teens opt to sleep a few more minutes rather than eat. Lunches may not offer as many healthy options at school as at home, and dinner is often squeezed in between activities and homework.
The school weekdays may be too hectic for sit-down dinners for the whole family, and that’s understandable. However, it’s still important for teenagers (and parents) to eat healthy meals as much as possible. One solution is to take a little preparation time in the kitchen each weekend so there are healthier options during the busy week. Families can share in cutting fruits and vegetables for snacks and even making larger portions of healthy meals to be refrigerated and eaten during the week. Before school begins, families can make a list of monthly meals to prepare over weekends so that everyone has a share in a healthy food routine.
When students are focused on academics, athletics, activities, and after-school jobs, they often don’t take any time to truly unwind. Many parents are guilty of the same, especially with the amount of screen time and online presence that takes over each day. One healthy activity that family members can do together, yet one of the toughest to schedule, is wasting time. Summer is the perfect chance to build time-wasting into the family routine.
Obviously, on some level, no time is really wasted—especially when family members are together. However, it’s important to remember to take a few minutes each week (or even day) and do nothing. This helps the brain and nervous system experience calm, which can alleviate stress and tension. One idea is for families to set a timer for 5 minutes when together and just visit about a particular topic. Some families may use the time for meditation or to play a game. So long as it’s not outcome-driven, it’s healthy.
Parents and students often clash when getting used to the back-to-school routine. However, preparing some aspects of the schedule before the first day of school can help alleviate tension and stress, and bring a healthy balance to the school year.