Back-to-School: Tips for a Mindful School Year
August 9, 2019
We hear a lot about the benefits of mindfulness these days. Basically, the concept refers to finding ways of focusing on the present moment while acknowledging and accepting everything that we are thinking, feeling and experiencing. It can take practice, but the calming benefits are entirely worth the time invested.
Back-to-school time is notoriously frantic as we leave our carefree summer behind and dive into a world of schedules and routines. Is there a way to bring calm to your home this time of year? Absolutely! Here are some tips for bringing mindfulness to the school year.
This might sound cheesy, but how you begin your day really matters. You want to get everyone off to a good start, and that’s not going to happen if you wake up to chaos. Creating a solid routine can really help make things better.
Put out clothes, pack bags, sign permission slips, and make lunches the night before. Then, take a few deep, cleansing breaths together at the table each morning. You might be rolling your eyes right now, and you might face resistance when you suggest this to your family members, but it’s a practice worth adopting.
Not only does focusing on our breath help us feel more centered, but doing it together can help you feel more connected. You’d be surprised by how receptive even toddlers they might be to this. After a while, creating a zen morning routine will feel like second nature—and you’ll all look forward to those moments of quiet before the storm!
One of the best things you can do is nourish your family’s bodies with food that is nutritionally rich and diverse. Try to incorporate as much color as possible, and then encourage your kids to make note of the vibrant hues that are on their plates or packed lunches.
Set an example of listening to your body for cues and stop when you are full. Eat slowly and let your body digest. Make meals that are complicated and require some assembly. Those will be eaten more purposefully than a bowl of pasta or a hot dog.
Keep devices, including the television, off while you are eating so that the focus is solely on what’s happening at the table. Talk about where the ingredients came from and/or share the history of the dish you’ve prepared. Show gratitude for your meal and allow yourselves to enjoy each other’s company.
Consider Your Schedules
It’s not always possible, but if the school year is causing stress in your home, it might be beneficial to make changes to your work schedule. Find out if you can work from home some days or if your employer is willing to be flexible with your hours.
Of course, make use of carpooling opportunities with other parents, but if you find yourselves being spread too thin, you may also need to rethink your child’s schedule. Are they enrolled in too many extracurricular activities? Do they seem to be struggling to keep up with obligations?
In theory, it’s wonderful to be involved in a lot of different things, but we must also respect our limits. Check in with your kids and your own feelings throughout the year, and address anything that feels excessive. It can be hard to let go of something, at first, but many times, we are grateful when the burden is lifted!
Living mindfully can take some practice, so it’s important to set a good example. Be committed to doing everything you’re asking of your family, even if they are uninterested at first. They may never come around, but you’ll still be calmer and more prepared to take on the challenges of the day—and that alone makes it worth the effort!