August 26, 2021

10 tips for adjusting to the back-to-school routine

By Sun Life Staff

Feeling stressed about getting back into the fall routine? There are ways to help your whole family live a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle. 

Back to school means back to a more hectic pace of life. Want to keep living like it's summer? Here are 10 ideas to help.

1. Start some new habits

Did you know that fall is actually the best time to make resolutions? Now is the time to get started! 

You may be wondering what type of habits you could start. Occupational therapist Francine Ferland suggests setting some time aside just for family activities. For example, you could: 

  • Go apple picking.
  • Rake piles of leaves.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Enjoy a family swim at the pool (if public health guidelines permit).
  • Ask the kids to suggest activities.

2. Edit your schedule 

The whole family loved having free time during the summer, didn’t they? Keep it going by dropping some of the things that normally fill your schedule during the school year. The trick here is to be picky about activities outside of school. 

To make good choices, Sonia Couture, special educator and family coach, suggests asking yourself the following questions: 

  • What do we get out of this activity? 
  • What are the pros and cons for the children? 
  • What are the pros and cons for the parents? 
  • Will it mean running around as soon as we get home from work? 
  • Are the kids keen to do it, or will they complain all the time? 
  • Your answers will tell you which activities are worth your time.

3. Address your stress 

Is your stress level running high by the end of the day? Take 10-minute breaks to relax, instead of waiting for a 3-hour chunk of time. Ten minutes of calm is all you need to lower your blood pressure.

Maybe you’re feeling anxious about life after the pandemic once lockdowns end. “Going back out into the world after a long break and still facing a mysterious virus can be very threatening,” says Valérie Legendre, psychologist and Director of Mental Health Solutions at Sun Life. 

Be sure to seek help from a therapist if you need it. Use the Lumino Health search tool to find health care professionals in your area.

4. Sleep like a baby

Sleep is precious. Many of us stay up a little later during the summer holidays. But now’s the time to get back into a healthy sleep routine. Sonia Couture says it’s important to create the right atmosphere and relax for an hour before bedtime. 

  • Dim the lights.
  • Turn off the television, devices and video games. 
  • Put on some quiet music. 
  • Take a moment to chat with your kids to see how their day went. 

5. Put fun on the agenda

Start your “5 to 9” with a little fun time! 

  • Even before you start making dinner: 
  • Put on some music and dance for 15 minutes.
  • Play a game together as a family. 
  • Read the children a story.

“Kids will love having that time with their parents and stress will just melt away. Everyone can then move on to something else,” Francine Ferland explains. 

6. Tweak your exercise plan

Getting motivated to do some physical activity can sometimes be challenging. One solution is to get moving before dinnertime. 

  • Walk to school to pick up the kids. 
  • Stop to play at the park with the kids. 
  • Play a quick game of soccer in the backyard before you go inside.

If you’re working remotely, include some time in your schedule for a workout session at home

7. Go play outside

Everyone wants their kids to play outside more, and not just during the summer. So give them a reason. “Suggest a few things so they don’t end up telling you they don’t know what to do. In the fall, they could go out and look for different leaves for a leaf collection, for example,” says Francine Ferland. 

8. Free up some free play

People often think that children learn more during structured activities. “We need to remind ourselves that time for free play is also important. Free play is a great way to stimulate all areas of our children’s development,” Francine Ferland points out. 

9. Eat healthy meals 

Perhaps you ate more fruits and vegetables during the summer, and you had more family meals together. Pat yourself on the back and find ways to keep it up. “Meal planning is key. It saves you time when you’re grocery shopping. And you’ll have everything on hand when you’re getting meals ready!” says Sonia Couture.

 10. Check in and adjust

As the weeks go along, remember to check in with your family regularly. “Set your priorities according to your actual needs. Talk about what’s going well and what’s been a challenge. Then see where you can make adjustments,” explains Sonia Couture. For example, if karate two nights per week is too much for your child, look for a school that offers classes on Saturday mornings.

The important thing is to make sure that what you’re doing works for the whole family.

Happy autumn! 

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