As we enjoy the last weeks of summer, it may be helpful to give some thought to how you'd like this next school year to look for you and your family. For example, are there new routines you want to create? Things you want to do together? The following tips are designed to help set you up for success.
1. Put your priorities on paper
Sit down as a family and discuss what feels most important to you. For example, is getting more sleep a priority? Sitting down to dinner together at least three times a week? Factoring in time for family activities? Think about how doing--or not doing--these things will affect you, and then get specific about how you'll carve out time for what feels most important.
2. Identify supportive resources
Whether it's a back-up babysitter, dog walker, a family counselor, or any other type of resource, having them identified in advance can really help once you get into the hectic swing of the school year.
3. Factor in time to be outside
We get used to more hours of sunshine and time spent outdoors in the summer, which can be harder to get in the fall and winter. But with some advance planning and creativity, you can make sure to have more time for nature; time to disconnect from technology and focus on each other. It's very important for both emotional and physical well-being.
4. Screen the screen time
It's all too easy to fall into the "screen trap"--everyone tuned in to their own devices. Think about what seems realistic for the members of your family, and then make a plan for how long you'll be connected to the screens, and when you'll unplug and connect as a family.
5. Plan for play time
Time to get physical activity is crucial for both children and adults. Take a look at your schedule, factoring in after-school activities, meetings, and other demands, and come up with some times when you could exercise or do an activity as a family. Then, honor these times as you would any other appointments.
6. Make relaxation a requirement
It's all too easy to get caught up in the "go, go, go!" mentality. But time for rest and relaxation is critical for both kids and adults. Make sure there are some times during the week where activities aren't scheduled and everyone can unwind.
7. Stock up on sleep
If the summer has meant looser bedtime and waking routines, start going back to earlier bedtimes at least two to three weeks before the start of school, as body clocks need time to adjust. But don't cut summer short by bringing attention to the looming start of school--focus instead on how much sleep contributes to growing bodies.
Now is a great time to freeze summer produce such as berries, peppers and other fruits and vegetables. During winter months, these can be thawed and tossed into smoothies, stir fries, and soups. Keys to proper freezing of fruits and vegetables include:
- Drying well to get rid of moisture that could form ice crystals
- Removing as much air as possible when sealing the storage bag
- Storing the fruits or vegetables in a flat layer (that way, when needed, you can break off a section without defrosting the entire bag)
Monthly Challenge: Make the most of more daylight
Take advantage of the longer days of summer and get out for a walk after dinner with your family! See how many nights you can get one in, challenging yourself to achieve a certain number of walks each week.