With schools reopening for in-person learning, it’s understandable that many parents and students may feel anxious about going back to school. Healthy routines can help your students stay productive and positive, particularly during this time of heightened anxiety. Daily patterns of actions not only help kids develop life skills but also help them feel safe.
Here are five helpful tips on setting healthy practices for the upcoming school year:
1. Avoid the morning rush—and frazzled nerves—by setting the stage the night before.
Avoid a frantic rush involving making decisions or looking for items in the morning; prepare outfits or school uniforms before going to sleep. Make it a habit to organize everything your child needs for the next school day in a specific place the evening before, including backpacks and school projects. For many families, this may be an area near the door. As children age, they can take on more and more responsibility for this before-school prep routine themselves.
2. Start the day with a healthy breakfast—and maybe some positive affirmations.
Hunger is a type of chronic stress on the body that impairs learning as well as physical and mental development. Spending time together sharing a nutritious breakfast and some positive affirmations or expectations also sets the tone for the rest of the day. Try to have breakfast at the same time each day. Involve your child in breakfast prep if they’re old enough. This shared experience creates an opportunity to bond and, more importantly, builds their confidence to prepare their own meals someday.
3. Get quality sleep.
Sleep is crucial to physical and mental health and for successfully maintaining routines. So be consistent about bedtime and wake time. Help kids wind down by ruling that electronics can’t be used close to bedtime and helping them to switch to calming activities such as reading or taking a warm bath.
It may be harder to enforce bedtimes with teens; therefore, it’s essential to communicate with young adults regularly about how sleep deficiency can impact their performance and productivity. It may help to invite your teen to join you for a warm cup of tea or a meditation session before bedtime. Or you can encourage them to explore and find their own wind-down routines and activities.
4. Practice and express gratitude.
Kids need a safe space where they can talk about their problems. As a parent, conversations, where your child opens up about their troubles, allow you to promote gratitude without devaluing their worries.
Make it a habit to spend quality time with your child each day to talk about what you are grateful for that day. The best time to connect would be over dinner or before bedtime; make sure the TV is off and electronics, especially smartphones, are set aside. If they’re not comfortable talking, journaling might be more their style.
5. Allow flexibility when necessary.
While routines can be healthy and reassuring, they can also induce anxiety, particularly for a child that feels pressured to maintain a schedule. Sometimes, routines need to be tweaked to meet your goals and sustain mental health.
When routines become too stressful, allow time for soothing activities. For some, a nap or a walk is all they need. For others, a longer break or a counseling session with a professional may be essential.
About the Writer
Communicare offers multiple treatment options for co-occurring disorders (substance use disorders and mental health disorders). Communicare’s Haven House is a residential treatment facility and is certified through the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.