Back to School Routine, Stress & Lunches


This can be a time of increased stress for many families. There is the settling into school, back to hectic mornings, and trying to get kids (and ourselves!) back into a routine. With the addition of those dreaded lunches and snacks to prepare.

One of the things that I implemented in my family when the kids were quite young (like grade 2!) was getting them to make their own lunches. I was finding that the complaints about what I had put in their lunch were constant, so I put the responsibility back on to them. This led to lunches and snacks getting eaten and enjoyed. Initially, I guided them with a piece of fruit, a sandwich or something substantial, and a snack. I was happy to cook or prepare little snacks for them. I hate processed foods and my daughter, particularly, did not react well to preservatives, sugars and chemicals in foods. This meant I had to put more effort into making healthy and delicious snacks. Homemade dips, like tzatziki or hummus, with carrot sticks are popular. Banana bread always seems to go well (despite my son not liking fresh bananas). I seem to be always freezing bananas, that aren't getting eaten, which are great to use for cooking (this is also a reduction on waste). I have tried egg and bacon mini quiches – they were short lived! A constant favourite is left-overs, the kids have become inventive in putting last night's dinner into a wrap or even taking a thermos to school. I have found that not only do my kids eat better and have control over their food, but I also feel less stress in the mornings!

1 Statistics show that one in fourteen Australians aged between 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This can often be related to school and means that as parents we are hyper-vigilant around this time of year. As we all know, kids pick up on the tension that we carry, so it is even more important to be able to manage our own stress levels. During my separation, my daughter, 8 years old at the time, experienced frightening episodes of anxiety and sadness. The Kids Helpline was fantastic in helping her through, along with an excellent diet, lots of love, some acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine. She has since developed some easy techniques to help her through difficult times. Cortisol levels increase with stress and anxiety which can lead to an increased risk of depression. 2 Acupuncture is great at lowering cortisol, so we could all do with a relaxing acupuncture session!

One of the biggest problems in our family is getting the kids back into a reasonable bedtime. I try to start the process in the week before school starts back, but I don’t exactly succeed! I know that it is going to be tough-going getting them out of bed and out the door in time for school. Sleep is also important for healthy cortisol levels and much to my children’s horror I insist on bedtimes that ensure they are well rested. This means no phones in the bedroom and a consistent routine and time for bed, without too much deviation over the weekend. Naturally teenagers need more sleep, so its important to ensure that they are getting enough through the week, in addition to those long sleep-ins on the weekend!

What do you do to survive the back to school dramas? I hope this helps some of you and your beautiful children.

References

1 ABS Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 (2016). Underlying causes of death (Australia) Tables 11.1 and 11.3

2Vazquez, RD, Gonzalez-Macias, L, Berlanga, C & Aedo, FJ 2011, ‘Effect of acupuncture treatment on depression: Correlation between psychological outcomes and salivary cortisol levels’, Mental Health, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 21-26.

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