Tips for the new school year

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For parents and kids alike, the new school year can be exciting and full of new opportunities. It can also be a source of stress and frustration. Parents are inundated with papers to complete and return, upcoming events to record, check writing, meetings, coordinating schedules and rides, after-school activities, etc. For students, it can elicit feelings about being successful, accepted, supported, and safe, popularity and fitting in, with who will they eat lunch or what will they eat, what to wear, how will they get to school, etc.  The lists are never-ending.

IF you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of parent and IF that works for you AND your kids, then great. You can stop reading now. For the rest of us…I hope you find something that will help you with the summer-to-school transition.

So what can parents do to help minimize all this emotion?

  1. Acknowledge it. First, we have to take our heads out of the beach sand for a moment and realize that this is a transition and it is coming up quickly. Also acknowledge this transition can be hard on us and our kids. Ignoring it won’t make it so.
  2. Prepare your mind. Make a list of all the things you know will be changing and coming your way. Get it out of your head and onto paper. This may help to relieve the internal mental churnings and allow you to observe the list and think about possible solutions for each item. For example…
    • If you know that the paperwork trail is overwhelming to you….maybe you can think about creating a place for all school forms to go so they don’t get lost.
    • Or if you know that the busy schedule gets you stressed, plan to take a little time each day to relax or exercise or do some other actviity that helps you reduce that stress so you can be more present and positive.
  3. Sleep. I don’t know about you but our sleeping patterns change in the summer: later nights lead to later, slower mornings. Decide whether you need to start going to bed and getting up a little earlier each day as you get closer to that first day of school OR will you bite the bullet and just get up early for that first day, struggle for a few days/weeks and let your body adjust to the new routine? Whatever works for you, but make the choice.
  4. Healthy Meal Planning. The new school year may also bring changes and challenges to meal planning. You can do a little prep work here too.
    1. Think about what worked in the past.
    2. Research and save recipes and meal ideas that are healthy easy, and quick in a file or on pinterest for easy access.
    3. Use a whiteboard to write the meal options/ideas for the week
    4. Create a snack bin
    5. Put out veggies (and fruit) after school. Kids will pick at it as they walk by.
    6. School lunch… discuss with your kdis about making healthy choices
    7. Bag lunch…. find creative and healthy options so they don’t get bored.
    8. Share dinner time responsibilities. This is great if you have older kids but younger kids can help out too.
  5. School supplies. Getting all those supplies can be expensive and stressful for some. My daughter loves shopping and organzing her supplies, my son hates it. Here are some things we do…
    1. Make a organized list.
    2. Get in a mindset of fun
    3. Get creative…my daughter likes to color coordinate classes. The best part is that it helps with organization all year long.
    4. Re-use…whether it’s from last year or a hand-me-down, if it’s in good shape why buy more?
    5. Set your priorities… what is more important to you? time or money? Shop accordingly.
    6. If you are able, buy backpacks and supplies for local children who cannot afford it.
  6. Homework.  It’s coming, why not prepare for it. Create a space that is welcoming and conducive for homework…quiet, well-lit, distraction-free, and comfortable.  Allow your kids to help create and decorate the space.
  7. Visualize a great year. What does it look like? What does your student want out of this year? Talk about it and set some goals. Create a vision board or a sign to serve as a reminder and motivator.
  8. Talk about fears and anxieties. Discuss steps that can be taken to reduce the anxiety so your student can feel more in control and prepared. Also make sure perspectives and expectations are realistic. Help your children develop tools to handle real life. Plus, always get professional help when needed. Here are some other ideas to consider…aikido blog
    • exercise routine
    • tutoring
    • school guidance or other services
    • academic coaching
    • therapists
    • health and lifestyle coaching
    • activites and interests outside of school

What do you do to help with the school year transition?

please share your ideas

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My Plate

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Trying to eat healthier and don’t know where to start? Try the “MyPlate Checklist Calculator” at www.choosemyplate.gov. You enter your information and it tells you how many servings you need in each food category.

Sometimes, I use the MyFitness App to help log what I eat when I need to get back on track and eat a more balanced diet.  Logging my food into categories helps me realize what I eat and I eat a lot of protein. I already know that but when I document and see the real data and impact of my choices, it’s harder to make excuses or deny the reality that I need to make some adjustments and be more mindful about my nutrition.

 

For some people eating more protein might be good.  I believe that one diet does not fit all. Some people function best as vegans, some NEED meat. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Your diet needs may depend on body type, lifestyle, blood type, allergies & sensitivies, etc. Find what works for you. If you have a hard time figuring it out, hire a nutritionist or a health coach to help you.

No matter what your eating style is, we all need nutrients to help our body function properly.  Fueling our body is the #1 reason we eat…not taste, not emotion, not joy, not social…fuel and nutritional support for all the processes and functions that are occurring in our bodies. cell division, DNA replication, liver function, brain function, heart and lungs…you get the gist. Important stuff.

So get rid of the sugar, chemicals, and other processed foods and start feeling better.

Your body will thank you!

You are a good mom

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This week I met with a friend for coffee. During our time together, we began talking about our kids, like any mother eventually does. Her kids are much younger than mine, so her stories brought back old memories…both good and “bad”.

In the telling of her stories, I could see in her eyes: joy, fear, guilt, frustration, anger, hope, confusion, love…all those emotions our children elicit from us on a daily basis. It reminded me of a time when a stranger made me cry.

Many moons ago, I took Jordan to lunch at Applebee’s after picking her up from preschool.

NOTE: I was a fairly new mom and parenting didn’t always feel natural for me. I struggled emotionally.  I was a task-master. I loved working and struggled with being a stay at home mom. I did (and still do) not like to be uncomfortable, physically or mentally. To me, obstacles need to be overcome, a solution to be found. Well, in parenting all of these traits can be counter-intuitive and make parenting (and life) that much harder. My true person has not changed but I worked really hard to adjust my mindset and grow into being a better, more balanced parent. and, by the way, I am still working on these traits so I can be more accepting and present.

So, we are at Applebee’s. I am sure I encouraged 3-year-old Jordan to order for herself, we were playing games, and/or I was asking her questions and showing genuine interest in her and her day. I know I was praising her for actions and behaviors (I love psychology so THAT I knew to do).  I don’t really remember all the nitty-gritty details. But a man came over to our table and said to me “YOU are a good mom.”

Even now, as I hear that memory in my head, I cry. How nice it was to hear a kind word from a stranger who had no ulterior motive or any pressure to do so. It is not very often someone compliments us. When that compliment is about something you feel so in adequate or insecure about, it makes it that much more meaningful and emotional. Mothers are rarely complimented. Shamed, yes. Judged, yes. Praised? Hardly ever.

The memory of this kind man is one of the most important memories I hold onto. It helps me through hard times with my kids. It reminds me that I do have some natural parenting skills or instincts. It is the kindness I need, when no one else is offering it.

I didn’t get a chance to tell my friend what a good job she was doing with her children (and she truly is). She is a natural mother, although it may not always feel that way to her. So I sent her an email and explained to her what I observed in our conversation and told her that she was a good mother. She seemed very appreciative. I know she will hold onto those words in tough times. They will help her build self-trust.  I know this because I have been there. I am still there.

It is SO important to be kind and give words of encouragement and positive feedback, to our friends, family, co-workers, even strangers; maybe especially strangers. None of us hears it enough. We get plenty of judgement, name-calling, put-downs, and negative feedback. Hell, check out social media if you don’t believe me. But in real life there is not enough encouragement, empathy, and kindness.

On the flip side, giving a compliment can bring up some deep-seated emotions. I know I got emotional when I told my friend she was a good mom. When I want to say “thank you” to a soldier, I get so emotional that I can’t get the words out. I know their family’s pain and the sacrifice they made. I grew up with it, so it brings up some strong feelings from my childhood. One day I will find a way to get the words out. For some people, this type of emotion is scary and something they avoid at all costs. But in the end, you both will feel better. It is a win-win.

So if you see someone doing a good job, tell them. If you see a mom being a good mom, tell her. If you see a mom struggling , be supportive maybe give her a compliment on what she is doing well. It will help her more than you ever know.

Compliments are good for the soul for both the giver and the receiver.

Why not make a committment to compliment one stranger this week?

See how it goes.

I would love to hear your story and I am sure others would to.