The school year is full of a lot of fun activities, as well as the desire to keep up with family time and free time. It can feel like a lot to balance all these demands on your family’s time in a way that’s both fun and healthy. Or, at the very least, not detrimental to anyone’s mind or body.
Having and Acknowledging a Full Plate
The normal school-age child’s day is full of school itself, homework after the fact, sports, other extracurricular activities, and both family and alone time. This can feel like an exhausting amount to fit into a day. The good news is, neither you nor your child have to do everything every day. Take a look at your children’s workload and the family schedule as a whole and ask everyone a few pertinent questions.
- Which things have deadlines and are nonnegotiable, most days? (School, work, quarterly projects/presentations, etc.)
- What does each person have the energy for?
- What does each person have the time for? If a child wants to do both soccer and volleyball, but the practices are at the same time, they’re not going to have time for both. Which is more important to them?
- When are the vehicle(s) already claimed? Are people running in more directions than the family can manage?
- Look at what your schedule would end up being if you said yes to everything you want to. Do you still have open time for rest and play? Or is all of it spoken for? What about schoolwork–if you say yes to everything, do you have time to finish all your homework?
- Can the parents keep up with this schedule? Parents want to be able to say yes to what their children want, but it does no one any good if, in saying yes to everything, they drive themselves into the ground, get sick, and can’t follow through on any of it.
- What stress does each thing put on your body? If schoolwork stresses a child out a lot, they may not be able to handle much physical stress on top of it.
- Be honest with yourself and each other–have you all committed to too much?
How to Clear the Plate
Don’t be afraid or feel like it’s taboo to release some of the things on your plate. Help your family see that saying no to some extracurriculars isn’t bad. Saying no for a year and then going back to it because you found out that you really missed it isn’t bad, either. Encourage everyone to be honest about what they’re willing to give up, and what they’re not.
Understand that the thing being given up might be family time. Is everyone okay with that?
If your children are in extracurriculars that are a bit more demanding, get them in to see a chiropractor and help release the physical stress. The body doesn’t differentiate between types of stress–one kind is the same as another. If they’re taking on a lot of mental stress and can’t give any of it up, release the physical or chemical stress in the body. If they’re in a sport that’s a lot of physical stress, all the more reason to find a way to release it.
Getting Through the day Nutritionally Sound
When our days are full and played out at a hundred miles an hour, it can be easy to wave off nutritional needs. If you’re barely ever at home, how are you supposed to make sure your children are getting three nourishing, whole-food meals a day?
This is why one of the questions it’s important to ask yourself and your family is if everyone has enough time in the day to get done what they need to do. Maybe, in order to keep your family’s chemical stress down and make sure they’re being nourished the way their bodies need, you can’t drive them to every practice or game.
The body can only produce what you need with the fuel you give it. In order for your body to repair and maintain its systems and organs, you need to give it what those systems and organs need–nutrients that aren’t in fast food. Learn more about that here.
Get your family’s allergies tested and give their immune systems a break by cutting those foods from their day to day diets. Cut down on toxins–found in GMOs, dyes, and the dirty dozen as well as some hair products, deodorants, makeup, cleaners, and fabric softeners. Reduce the inflammatory foods your family is taking in–including sugar and dairy–to reduce the chances of every physical ailment, and even irritability. What are the deficiencies in your family’s bodies? Calcium? Magnesium? Electrolytes? Be sure to include supplemental amounts of each.
When making sure your family is getting electrolytes, make sure they’re good, healthy ones. There are many sports drinks out there that are mainly just sugar; stay away from those—they do nothing for you.
What Does Consistency Look Like?
Consistency is keeping up with what you have committed to. You don’t need to do everything every day. If family time has to be given up some days, or you don’t have time to do homework one night and none of it is due tomorrow, anyway, that’s fine. But you do have to follow through on what you said you’d do. However, with every commitment, there are people that are depending on you to keep up your part of the deal.
Getting a calendar or planner is a good way to keep track of what you need to do and when. Having a big family calendar in a prominent place to illustrate times for school, work, and extracurricular activities for every family member will help balance activities. Each family member having a calendar or planner of their own will help everyone keep track of when projects are due, times for homework, practice, games, eating, and relaxing in their preferred way.
If these blocks of time are consistent and you can make a certain time of day be for each activity, that can also help going forward. Work with your family to plan meals for the week ahead of time. For easy, healthy meals, check out our recipes!
Be sure to write out everything you have to do in the upcoming week–even if you’re not using a planner or calendar. Write down practices, games or shows, times you’re at school, homework, eating, sleeping, everything. If you are using a calendar or planner, it’s an easy matter to transfer everything into your calendar. If you aren’t, you’ll still have a list of what you need to accomplish to refer back to. If you think of something else you need to do in a week, put it on the list, and check the items off bit by bit. Remember–the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory; things written down will be remembered far longer than those not.
How to be Consistent at Home
Food can be a hard thing to remain consistent with. There are a few ways to make this easier, however. Keep a list of things to eat and things to avoid within easy sight as you’re cooking or the family is making lunches. Pack lunches and snacks for the next day when you’re not hungry or craving something you shouldn’t have. Make it a fun family experience. Some tips on how to do this are included in this article.
Make not eating the foods you shouldn’t have an easier choice; get rid of what you shouldn’t: sugar, dairy, allergens, GMOs, dyes, and inflammatory foods. Get these out of your kitchen, pantry, and fridge.
For foods that are both delicious and hit all the nutrition checkpoints, check out our recipes here.
When you get home from work and school, it can be tempting to just throw out any schedule entirely. To make the decision to not do this an easier one, go back to that planner, calendar, or list. If it’s helpful, make a separate to-do list for at home. You can make one for the week or make one for each day separately.
Feel free to reward yourself and your kids for completing your entire checklist or harder tasks, as well. Things like stickers, screen time, or a fun dessert after dinner can help give some incentive.
If you want to make it more of a community effort, set out a jar that, once it’s full of marbles or beans, means a reward for the family–maybe going somewhere fun, or getting a new game, or something. Whenever someone finishes their checklist for the day, they’re able to put a bean or marble in the jar. If they finish their checklist for the week, maybe they can put a handful inside.
For some of us, bedtimes are a relief. For others, they’re a struggle. And, even if they are a relief, maybe that time of night sneaks up on you.
Set timers for things like when it’s time to turn screens off, when it’s time to take any bedtime vitamins the family gets, when it’s time to brush teeth. Set an alarm for when it’s time to bed, and when it’s time to turn out the lights.
Set up bedtimes for the time that works in tandem with the body’s hormone cycles and allows the body to get all the rest it needs. Check out Doc’s video to learn about A Different Perspective on sleep. If you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, check out our article about that, here.
It can be easy to get frustrated when building habits and consistency. “An object in motion tends to stay in motion” applies to far more than just physics; habits built over years aren’t easy to break.
Give yourself and your family the grace and patience to struggle.
We’re here to help. To get your allergies tested, see how your body is responding to stress, or get adjusted, contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!