All good things must come to an end… including the summer holidays. Kids and parents alike everywhere are waking up to the end of freedom and the beginning of the new school year, which of course includes football practices, swimming lessons, parents’ evenings, homework, packed lunches, and many hours in the car. Kids think it is them who is getting the rawest deal of all… oh how little do they know how much tough it is for their parents.
Most back-to-school guides for parents focus on how to prepare your children to have a happy and successful year. This is a back-to-school guide is by parents, for parents and focusses on how to prepare yourselves for a happy and successful year, whilst maintaining your health and sanity.
Here are some tips on prioritising your health as a parent:
Make Your Health a Priority
There is no truer saying than “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, a metaphor for making sure we take care of ourselves. Back to school time typically means all eyes on the little ones and that shouldn’t exclusively be the case. Parents and carers are focussed on putting others’ needs before their own. You’re the captain of this ship, you count too and deserve to keep your own health and sanity in check during this stressful time. It’s tempting to sacrifice your mental and physical health just to keep the family boat afloat, but these can have serious long-term consequences that impact both your own well-being and the well-being of your family too.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Agree the back to school bedtime routine, for all, yes that includes you – set a bedtime! If you can start and establish bedtime and wake up times ahead of school. This will also give you more free time in the evening to name and label things, work through the mile-long to-do list or just watch Netflix and relax.
Drinking too much caffeine? Surviving on ready meals? Addicted to sugar? Eating well isn’t just important for our bodies, but it’s also important for our minds. Certain mineral deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can give us a low mood. Try to eat a balanced diet. If you’re a particularly stressed or anxious person, try limiting or cutting out caffeine as this can make you feel extra jittery and anxious.
Activity and Exercise
Can’t get out because of the kids, be the example and get yourself and your family on a regular group exercise plan. A before or after dinner walk around the block or to the park. Get a family gym membership. Pick one with kid-friendly classes or activities, or even just a play area to keep them busy. Block time on your family’s calendar to all go together if you can make it happen. Let the kids have fun while you get some exercise, which can serve as a physical reset and much-needed stress relief.
Get Plenty of Sunlight
Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a really important vitamin for our bodies and our brains. It helps our brains to release chemicals which improve our mood, like endorphins and serotonin. Try to go out in the sun when you can, but make sure you keep your skin and eyes safe. 30 minutes to two hours a day of sunlight is ideal. During the winter, some people become depressed because they aren’t getting enough sunlight – this is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Some people find using a special light-therapy lamp helps to alleviate the symptoms.
Modern life is stressful, and stress is often unavoidable, but knowing the triggers stress and how to cope is key in maintaining good mental health. Try to manage responsibilities and worries by making a list or a schedule of when each issue will be tackled. Writing challenges down and breaking worries and stresses into smaller tasks helps them to become more manageable. Try to avoid burying your head in the sand, and tackle problems face on. If you find you are having trouble sleeping or are waking up thinking about all of the things that are stressing you out, write them down and reassure yourself that you can deal with them in the morning.
Begin or Return to a Daily CBD Routine
Keep your CBD oil or CBD gummies by your bedside or toothbrush so that it will act as a reminder to take your daily dose both in the morning and evening, or whatever time of day works best for you. Practice mindfulness. Allow yourself to unplug periodically. Create a dedicated space for meditation or mental breaks throughout the day. Get acquainted with time blocking, if you’re not already. Use this method not only to get through your to-do list, but also to create mental space for yourself. Even if it’s only 10 minutes at a time, block periods of time to devote to yourself and your needs.
Be Kind To Yourself
Remember you are not superman or superwoman. We are all human, and there are just some things that are out of our control. The important thing to remember, is your health, and your needs.
You are not a bad parent if you can’t get through the daily to-do list every single day. Parenting is a process, that continually changes and almost never goes according to plan. When you’ve tried your hardest and just can’t get it all done, do not beat yourself up. Take a look at what you accomplished and let yourself feel proud and fulfilled for a minute. Accept that you did your best, that’s all you can do.
Best of luck for a great back to school week, term and school year!