As my multigenerational family and I transition out of summer vacation and prepare for what we call the back-to school-treadmill, I decided to take a step back and think about ways to not let our plates become so full.
There are great tips and tools out there that suggest creating an organized family calendar, laying out clothes the night before, getting enough sleep– and you know the rest. Yes, I get that and my family and I are fairly skilled at utilizing those tools. At the same time, there seems to be a level of overwhelm that creeps up just when you think you’ve got your routine in order.
Why does this happen?
I think a large contributor to this wave of overwhelm is due to the pace at which families operate. There is always something going on, and before we can fully transition back into the school routine, we start to feel stretched, fragmented, and we easily fall out of balance. Even my family, that has the added help of my mother-in-law in the home, can fall prey to this taxing and overwhelming way of being.
What to do?
The first thing to do is admit there is this issue of overwhelm and then tackle it one bit at a time.
This takes me back to a conversation I had with my mother-in-law about the USDA’s launch of ChooseMyPlate.gov.
We both agreed the food pyramid was out dated and did not do a great job of reminding us how to eat well. What my mother-in-law and I enjoyed most about this updated graphic of the food groups was how they were visually presented on a plate. The glaring message to us was, do not overload your plate.
In transferring key components of the balanced food plate to balancing our back-to-school transition, I came up a list of back-to-school nutrients:
Play time is to do just that – play. It’s not scheduled or prescribed play. It’s time to have fun, connect as a family, and to have a good time without an attached agenda.
Family members can all benefit from some time alone. Go-it-alone time is needed to tackle essential items on an individual level, and other family members have to recognize this and make space. Go-it-alone time is appropriate for homework, chores, or preparing for the next day.
We all need more time to rest and we typically do not allot enough time in this area. As a family, we need to encourage each other and model taking time during the day to rest. This may be in the form of meditation, a nap, and actually getting seven or more hours of sleep on a nightly basis.
There is so much information coming at families with various technological outlets. Be sure to unplug for a minimum of 20 minutes a day to rest your brain and eyes – and to lessen information overload.
Joy is most often overlooked when families are feeling overwhelmed and overtaxed. As a family, create a joy list that highlights simple things or situations that are joy creators. Post this list where all family members can see and revisit it as needed.
There is no one-way to have a smooth back-to-school transition because each family is different. The connecting factor is we all are trying to do a good job of having a healthy and happy family, and sometimes stopping to assess what is on our plates is want a family needs to move toward this ideal way of being.
As mentioned on ChooseMyPlate.gov, “Choose a change that you can make today, and move toward a healthier you. Your food and physical activity choices each day affect your health — how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.”
Click here to design your own back-to-school plate.
How is your family preparing for a successful transition in going back to school?
Workshop: Back to school stress-free: Starting the school year with the right amount on your plate (presented by Kanesha Baynard)
This workshop is designed to support parents/guardians in making the transition back to the school year. Participants will discuss must/should-dos (for back-to-school prep) and learn how to redefine this “to-do” list to fit their own family’s needs and lifestyle.
Two workshop dates:
August 23, 2011 – 5:30pm (MT) / August 28, 2011 – 2:00pm (MT)