Back-to-school season is an exhilarating time for most families. It can also be a time where schedule changes alone can cause great anxiety and fuel unhealthy habits. Experts say that a little collaboration, planning, and positivity, this time of year can be a learning and enjoyable experience for the entire family.
Be proactive and start healthy, suggests Meredith Radisch, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., of Changing Weighs Nutrition Counseling in Old Bethpage. “Keeping healthy snacks on hand promotes healthy eating habits as well as preventing unhealthy, processed snack foods from being preferential.” Aim for fruit, cut-up veggies and hummus or salsa, low-fat yogurt, nuts and seeds. Avoid fast food and try to implement plant-based meals to promote heart, kidney, gut and bone health, she advises. Meal prep if possible.
Prioritize exercise and time with family. “A nice walk or bicycle ride keeps the heart healthy and strong as well as cuts down on screen time,” says Radisch. “Making time to exercise as a family is a great way to stay motivated and enjoy your loved ones.”
Empowering your kids with the tools they need for success can help them gain confidence and even help to strengthen your relationship with them. “Flipping the conversation and asking what your kid is thinking—truly simply listening—and asking questions to understand more about their point of view, you’re likely to get far more conversation and your kid is likely to find their own answers,” says Cyndy Etler, author and board-certified teen life coach. Creating a verbal vision board to identify goals and steps needed to achieve them will fuel motivation, Etler adds.
Remember that all family members have their own path to walk on but knowing that they’re supported along the way can make all the difference. “Make it clear that they can share anything with you, and follow up on that,” advises Etler.
Keeping A Family Schedule
When it comes to your kids, set a good example, says Connie Henriquez Kimmel, author, teen life coach, and founder of Start Loving Life in Woodbury. “Doing your very best to be a happy, fulfilled parent, which is what you deserve,” Kimmel says, is the best way “to teach your child how to be their happy, fulfilled self.”
A family calendar can help each family member take responsibility for their own schedule and help to avoid surprise appointments or conflicts, says Kimmel. “Encourage your child to review the upcoming week and plan accordingly. That way they can plan their homework, attend to their sports, make plans with friends, and know whether they will have downtime or not.”
Preparation, collaboration and a positive mindset can help to reduce stress and create harmony for all at school, work and home.