It’s time to stop the back-to-school insanity. Whether you’re shovelling school supplies into your cart, buying an entire fall and winter wardrobe for multiple children or compulsively bookmarking online roundups of “adorable nut-free lunch ideas,” take a deep breath and step back. Sure, you can now count the days until the first day of school on your hands. And yes, you’re probably starting to dread the inevitable first-day jitters and nightly homework squabbles. But this year you can choose to start and end the school year on a calmer note by paring back and focusing on your family’s peace of mind. Here’s how.
- Put down the 48-pack of pencil sharpeners. While your kids’ school may have provided a list of required school supplies, many teachers outline requirements after school starts. Plus, if you’re like us, you may have lots of erasers, markers and supplies tucked in the back of your art baskets already. Hear from teachers first and get kids involved in reviewing what you already have before you hit the store.
- Focus on feelings. As parents we’re often so busy running through a mental shopping list—and savouring the last days of summer—that we forget to chat with our kids about first-day fears, being kind to students and teachers and managing the emotional ups and downs of school. Dr. Debra Pepler, a York University psychology professor and the scientific co-director of the bullying prevention research group PREVnet, offers some excellent tips for parents to prepare their kids for the mental and social challenges of the school year in this Canadian Living article.
- Start new routines. Rather than accepting parental stress as a given, why not carve out a few minutes a day to meditate? Research indicates that mindfulness meditation boosts our physical and mental health and may enhance family relationships, too. Starting or boosting your meditation practice is easier with Muse. Other apps offer guided meditations, but Muse is the only guided meditation tool with brain-sensing technology to let you hear whether your mind is calm or active as you meditate. (Check out this video on how new mom, Liza, uses Muse.)
- Take a break from the mall. You may have to buy school uniforms or a first-day outfit beforehand, but you probably don’t need to clean out The Children’s Place. Why buy six pairs of cords only to discover all the kids are wearing Adidas track pants this year?
- Lose the lunch guilt. Hey, we survived eating bologna sandwiches for seven years in a row. Go ahead and offer a wide variety of healthy foods, but don’t stress if you’re not offering homemade charcuterie in cookie-cutter shapes.
- Choose calm. Make time for family meditation as well. A recent meta-review of the effect of meditation interventions in schools concluded that meditation boosted cognitive function, success and emotional regulation in students. (Note that Muse is for people 16 and up, but Sarah Rudell Beach offers some easy ways to teach your kids mindfulness meditation in this Huffington Post article.) Demonstrating the benefits of meditation to kids is a gift that keeps on giving, in the school year and beyond.