Five ways to help reduce your children’s stress (and yours)
The kids are back to school and everything seems to be in full swing; homework, athletic practice, after school activities, homecoming games, etc. And just around the corner are the holidays. It’s a busy time of the year and it can also stressful for students and their parents. With so much going on, it’s easy for some to get overwhelmed.
Autumn should be about reflection, change and letting go of the past. It’s a time when nature begins to slow down. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible for us. But there are things we can do to help reduce our anxiety level during this beautiful time of the year. Here are five ways we can lower our stress levels and keep a sense of serenity within our household during the new school year.
1) Get Organized.
Nothing starts the day off on a bad note than rushing around in the morning, trying to get the kids ready for school and ourselves for work. For many of us, it’s a daily occurrence of playing ‘beat the clock’ which leaves us emotionally and physically drained before we walk out the door. It’s not a healthy way to start the day.
Getting a good start to the day begins the night before. In the evening, lay out your kids’ clothes, backpacks and other things they’ll need. Designate an area for these things so everyone isn’t scrambling in the morning looking for items they must have. It’s no fun when someone can’t find their homework and the school bus is outside honking their horn. The evening before is a good time to prepare their lunches too.
Once the morning slows down and everything is organized, you’ll feel better in control of the day. Now you might even have time for that meditation regimen you’ve been wanting to start.
2) Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
This may seem obvious, but studies show that many children (and adults) don’t et enough sleep. Sleep is just as important as the type of food we put into our bodies. Sleep helps recharge the brain’s battery and helps to increase our brain power. It is especially needed in children to help with cognitive skills and academic achievement. A good night’s sleep will keep children at their personal best. A constant lack of sleep can interfere with learning and lead to behavior problems.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-11 hours of sleep per night for children ages 5 to 12. Teens need 9 hours. Set a bedtime schedule for everyone (including yourself) and try to stick to it. Everyone will wind up feeling refreshed and ready to go each morning. It’s better than constantly hitting the snooze alarm. And speaking off alarm clocks, throw your old annoying buzzer alarm clock and wake up to the Sound Soother Alarm Clock. It has 20 soothing sounds, such as rain and ocean surf, that is much more pleasing than a jolting alarm.
3) Eat a Nutritious Breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet many of us skip our morning fuel or fall into quick, sugary habits. Lack of a good breakfast will result in a lose of concentration and low energy for playtime. It’s a cruel downward spiral. Less concentration means grades will drop. Low energy means less and less activity, which can lead to weight gain. In fact, studies show that children who skip breakfast have a higher tendency to be obese than those who eat breakfast.
For healthy, delicious and easy breakfasts that your kids will love, we highly recommend Bill and Claire Wurtzel’s book, Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts.
4) Help Manage Homework.
It’s no secret that children receive a lot of homework these days. This can lead to overdue assignments, incomplete work and stress for both students and parents. Help your kids manage the work by making a family schedule organizer or wall calendar. Use this to show appointments, extracurricular activities and homework assignments. Put this in a common area where everyone has access to it.
We really like the Mom’s Ultimate Family Organizer for the busy parent who needs to keep track of the entire family’s schedule and have it with them at all times. We also recommend the Board Dudes Home Decor Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar with Cork Strip. This large board is easily mounted on a wall and helps every member of the family see the monthly schedule at a glance.
Time management is an important skill that can to be developed and will lead to big dividends throughout life. Help your kids to realize that dividing up their homework over the days allotted will be more manageable and less overwhelming – for them and you.
Each child’s study habits are different and they should have a say in where they study. Some prefer a desk, others prefer to stretch out on the floor. If they choose the floor, provide the child with a comfortable mat to lay on while they do they homework and call it a homework mat. We recommend the eco-friendly, non-toxic Kid’s Sticky Yoga Mat for comfort and their choice of favorite colors.
5) Provide Healthy Afternoon Snacks.
Children are hungry after school and need something to hold them over till dinner time. What they don’t need are empty calories and sugary treats that will cause them to be cranky and crash later during their homework time. Providing healthy alternatives like fruit, granola bars, muffins, yogurt or peanut butter will keep their energy up, and keep them in a better mood later on – which adds to our own serenity (and sanity). For some great snack ideas for your child, we recommend The Ultimate Healthy Snack List by C. Elias.
Practicing the above five steps will help keep your kids happy, healthy and anxiety-free during the school year. It will also help you to feel less stressed and more in control of your life, which leads to a greater sense of well-being for your entire family.
Back to School, Back to Serenity,