It’s that time of year – shorter days, school supply lists and parents doing their best to get the family back on a routine before school starts. A well-structured morning routine is a powerful tool for everyone. It establishes the tone for the day, sends kids off to school well fed and energetic, and lessens the morning madness of trying to get everyone to school on time. Here are a few tips to help you get you and your kids ready for the new school year by creating a thoughtful back-to-school morning routine.
Waking Up Refreshed – The Importance of Sufficient Sleep
Establishing a healthy and consistent sleep schedule is an important part of creating a back-to-school routine, or a morning routine at any age. If kids aren’t getting enough rest, getting them up and out the door becomes that much harder, and doesn’t set them up for success.
A Few Ways to Help Get Your Kids to Bed on Time and Sleeping Well Through The Night
1. Make Bedtime a Family Affair
Kids fall asleep more easily if they know their parents are doing the same. Set the expectation that everyone goes to bed at a reasonable time.
2. Help Your Kids Get Plenty of Activity During the Day
Between school, recess, physical education, and after school sports and activities, it’s not hard for kids to come home zonked. However, it’s up to parents to make sure kids expend plenty of energy throughout the day. This will make bedtime that much more welcome.
It’s important to turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime. If your child is having a hard time winding down, opt for a book or story instead.
4. Create a Healthy and Inviting Sleep Environment
Understand individual needs when setting up a sleep environment. If you live on a busy street, consider a noise machine. If your child isn’t comfortable sleeping in the dark, find a soft white night light for their room. Make sure the temperature is comfortable, and consider an alarm clock that incorporates both light and sound.
5. Recognize and Address Sleep Challenges
These can come in the form of nightmares or night terrors, sleep walking, grinding teeth, insomnia and sleep apnea. If your child is getting in bed for a solid eight hours and still wakes up irritable or anxious, talk with your pediatrician.
Rise and Shine: Energizing Your Body – The Benefits of Morning Exercise
Moving your body before sunrise and getting that heart rate up is a great way to start the day off energized. While this is harder for young children, many kids naturally begin to exercise in the mornings as athletics become a bigger part of their daily routine. But if your family needs a morning boost, consider a 10-minute yoga session or some quick calisthenics to fire everyone up for the day.
If you’re looking for more personal morning time in the form of exercise, choose an activity that’s right for you. It might be a wintery morning run, or a calming yoga practice. If you live in an area where it’s hard to exercise outside in the morning, consider joining a local fitness center and use indoor exercise equipment, such as a treadmill, bike trainer or rowing machine. If those are not in the budget, a yoga mat and an online pilates or aerobics class are excellent ways to infuse the early hours with some at-home energy.
Nourishing Your Body and Mind – The Role of Breakfast in Your Morning Routine
We know, it can be hard to eat breakfast if your body isn’t quite ready for it, but a healthy morning snack is an elemental part of creating a back-to-school routine for a healthy day. It doesn’t have to be fancy; incorporating an elaborate breakfast into the morning rush isn’t always a reality. But there are plenty of healthy ways to squeeze in a bite to eat before the bell. Here are a few ideas:
Hard boiled eggs – Eat them on the go!
Overnight oats – Enjoy the many health benefits of oatmeal without the cook time. Mix in some berries, coconut yogurt and a little maple syrup for a more enticing treat.
Peanut butter toast – A little protein goes a long way!
French toast – Milk, egg, cinnamon and a little sugar make for an elegant morning meal.
Granola – This well-loved, versatile breakfast choice is great with milk, yogurt or dry in a bowl on the way to school if you’re running late.
Mindful eating can boost your children’s productivity. Empowering them with a healthy balance of nutrients and flavor can kick-start their day, and keep them energized through lunchtime. Eating a healthy breakfast is also an excellent way to establish a long-term mindful eating practice in your family’s daily routine.
Finally, drink plenty of water, and make sure your kids do, too. It can be easy to forget to hydrate throughout the day – especially for younger kids who are easily distracted by a busy schedule – so send your child to school with a full water bottle. This turns drinking enough water from a chore into a natural aspect of their day.
Mindfulness and Mental Preparedness – Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation
While the early morning trope of waking up late, pounding the alarm, and rushing everyone out the door is fodder for many a comedy movie and commercial, it’s not the healthiest way to start the day. Incorporating a mindfulness practice into your morning routine is gaining popularity mainly because it boosts our ability to reduce daily stress, stay focussed, and enter the day with calm and clarity.
If you’re new to meditation, keep it short and simple, then add time to your practice as your schedule allows. A few easy steps to start include:
1. Find a place where you can sit comfortably.
2. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
3. Be aware of your mind and your thoughts. If your mind begins to wander, bring your focus back to your breath.
4. Gently open your eyes.
That’s it! If you prefer, find a meditation app that can guide you through the process.
Another great way to incorporate mindfulness into your morning routine is journaling. As you wake up, spend a few moments documenting your dreams, setting your intention for the day, or making note of your feelings and any stresses or worries that might have disrupted your sleep the night before. Journaling is a great way to gain clarity and focus.
Finally, before the morning really ramps up, take a few moments to visualize the day, what you need to do, and what you hope to accomplish. Doing so can help set the intention for the hours ahead, and keep you on track as you go.
Streamlining Your Morning – Time-saving Tips and Organizing Your Space for Efficiency
We’ve all been there – there’s only a minute until the bus arrives and no one can find the backpack, or the homework, or the shoe, or the snow hat, mitten, water bottle, library book, etc. It’s an easy way to derail the morning, and even the day. If possible, try to organize your morning the night before by laying out clothes, making sure homework and library books are in backpacks, and even packing lunches.
It can also be helpful to declutter your living area. Designate a space for artwork, homework and studying. Try to keep kids’ clutter contained to those areas so you’re not overcome by school papers and homework on the kitchen counter. Spending a few minutes in the evening to organize your space and everyone’s things can make the following morning much easier. Organization can go a long way towards creating a back-to-school routine.
Crafting a Balanced Morning Routine – Balancing Responsibilities and Enjoyment
Between kids, partners, pets and work, it can be easy to overcommit. Instead, become comfortable saying no to avoid the other kind of clutter – social obligations – that can get in the way of your personal priorities. Spend time focusing on your hobbies and interests, making time to pursue both when possible.
Equally important is imparting these time management skills on your young learners. Students benefit from the same things – focusing on their personal and academic priorities without overcommitting on the social side of things. Doing so allows them to focus and flourish while maintaining friendships in a healthy, balanced way.
Embracing the power of a healthy, established morning routine sets you and your family up for success. This year, start your journey to a successful back-to-school morning routine by establishing healthy practices, setting personal goals and objectives, and making time to focus on how you want the days to go. Doing so will set you on a path toward a lifelong journey to better health.