Summer. Ahhh. All the fun, yummy barbecues, beach/pool visits, movie watching, ice cream eating, good times with friends and family, and travels. I hope you are enjoying the last weeks of summer!
But all good things do come to an end. That means vacations are going to be over soon and we’ll have to head back to work and school. The transition from carefree days to a more regulated schedule can be jarring for anyone. I know many of us dread it. Helping our kids – and ourselves – make this yearly transition is important. There are ways to adjust that cause less shock to our systems. Being cognizant of this transition and making the best of it will help us and our children avoid brain fog, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, digestive upsets, sleep problems, and catching colds.
I know there are many people who just go "cold turkey" and prepare themselves and their children the day before work or school starts. That may work for some families; however, I’m a believer of all things in moderation. A gentle transition to school/work readiness is a kinder way to help many adults and children adjust with the least resistance, physically and mentally. Here is my 2-week timeline to help your child become Back-to-School Ready:
2 weeks before school resumes:
- Preventative medicine. Start giving Windbreaker preventatively to your child, one to two doses a week. Many of you are familiar with Windbreaker through my frequent recommendations of it. It’s a Chinese herbal formula to prevent and treat colds. It’s an adult formula, but has been sweetened with glycerin to be child-friendly. Adults and children alike can take it preventatively; you just dose appropriately for the age of the person.
1 week before school resumes:
- Remind your child(ren) school is beginning in 1 week and that routines are going to change in the house again. This will help them prepare for school – physically, emotionally, and mentally.
- Involve them in preparing for their own school readiness. Ask what they think will help them get ready. It’ll increase their chances of buying back into this change.
- Adjust bed times. Most of us - adults and children alike - are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep is completely overlooked in our society despite its effect on our health and daily lives. Look at this handy graph to see where you and your family fall in the optimal sleep duration recommendation. If your child has been going to bed late and waking up late, start shifting bedtime and wake time. Shift by 30 minutes earlier so you’re getting closer to the child’s regular school day bed and wake up times. Take into account the sleep duration recommendation.
- Resume Iyashi Touch, the massage I've taught you, if you’ve been skipping it. It makes bedtime a special bonding time again between you and your child and empowers your child to self-regulate again, both during the day and night.
- Adjust diets. If your child has been enjoying a lot of ice creams, summer sweet treats, hot dogs, pizzas, fries, cakes and other processed foods, start cutting these out and exchanging them with fresh fruits, veggies and homemade Real Food. (Here is a handy guide to switching from CRAP foods to Real Foods.) Why is this important? Eating healthier detoxes the gunk and prepares the body’s terrain to handle the stress and challenges that Change (in this case, Back-to-School) always causes in the body.
- Start cutting back on leisure screen time. We are becoming a nation of screen-addicted individuals, and there are numerous studies coming out on the detrimental effect of screen time on children. Children role model their parents and the adults around them. Consider looking at your own screen time habits to help cut back on your child’s screen time. And as a general rule, no screen time of any kind 1-2 hours before bedtime. Here are some handy tips to implement healthy screen times.
Weekend before school resumes:
- Adjust sleep to regular school schedule.
- Minimize screen time to very limited viewing (15-30 minutes max/day for young children and 30-45 minutes max/day for older kids and teens) to help your child’s mind rest and assist her with better sleep leading up to school. A well-rested child is a happy child.
- Equip your child with new school supplies, lunch bag, lunch box, school clothes and shoes, and backpack.
- Food prep for the week so that you have a daily lunch (if you pack lunches) and dinner menu to help you stay on a healthy track during the week. Have your family help you with the shopping, prepping and cooking over the weekend and during the course of the week.
- Increase Windbreaker dosage. Give one dose of Windbreaker every day starting now through the first two weeks of school. This is a stronger preventative dosage protocol. If your child starts to show signs of a cold, increase the dose to three times a day to treat the cold.
Once school resumes:
- Schedule a visit with me. I can assess and treat any blockages or stress manifestations that you or your child are experiencing upon return to work and school. The treatment will not only clear blockages and stress symptoms, but will help your body flow more smoothly so that this transitional stage will be less jarring. It will be a good reset button for parent and child. I will prescribe herbs and supplements if necessary.
If anxiety is an issue for your child, help cope with back-to-school jitters with:
o Iyashi Touch
o Relaxation techniques like meditation, qi gong, yoga
o Herbs (contact me for an herbal consultation and I will prescribe the right herbal formula just for your child)
o Calcium-Magnesium supplements like Calm
o Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic flower remedy
o Cut back on excess sugar, carbs, and energy drinks. Give them more protein as this stabilizes blood sugar and soothes nerves.
I hope these strategies will help you and your family transition back to school more peacefully and seamlessly, or help you think of other strategies you may implement to help your own unique family. Please feel free to share what other activities or strategies you've implemented that have helped your family. We can all learn from each other.
I strongly believe it is our job as parents to help our children learn to navigate as successfully as possible through all the changes that occur in life. That is the one constant in life, Change. The more we provide our children with tools of self-empowerment, self-care, and self-regulation, the better equipped they will be to face challenges that will inevitably appear in their lives. And so it is in these mindful steps you take to prepare them for Back-to-School that you will help them to also understand that with preparation and self-care, they will be able to handle to the best of their abilities life's changes or challenges, big and small.