Aug 21, 2017

Back To School with Juicy Juice

And They’re Off!

Parents of school-aged kiddos know the drill very well. The anticipation, the nerves, the list of supplies to hunt and gather, the rooms full of trendy BTS clothes, lunches to pack, and the yearly struggle to get your merry band of youngsters to shift from summertime to school mode overnight. Fun times!

As a former teacher, and having successfully gotten one kid so far from Pre-K to college, I have had many late Augusts full of these same hurdles. It’s an exciting time for both parents and kids, but also one that can cause parents and children to loose their “cool”. This summer I’ve partnered with Juicy Juice for the their 100 Percent Family Time campaign, to help us all find simple ways to make the most of the limited family time we have together. (It turns out we’re all very busy).  

Here are 6 simple ideas that will turn the stress and nuttiness of back to school into something a little more fun and enjoyable. And for even more playful ideas, check out my FamilyTime video below!

Good luck, fellow parents!

Let’s DO this… 

1. Have a School Day "Dress Rehearsal"

The first day of school is a big deal for most kids… it’s the “big show,” so to speak. And before every big show, there are usually a few full-on dress rehearsals, right? One way to calm first-day jitters is to do a fun- filled run-through! Pick a morning when you don’t have a lot going on, prepare the night before for the big show by packing a lunch, loading up the backpack with some fun toys and then set the alarm clock for their typical school-morning wake-up. The next day do what you would normally do on a school morning! Have breakfast, wash up, get dressed and grab your gear. But, instead of heading off to school… go for an early AM playground romp to celebrate their perfect (or semi-perfect), school-day dress rehearsal. Even better, you’re already packed up and  ready to enjoy the day at the park!

2. Set your morning rush to music

School-day mornings are often super busy, bustling and stressful. One way to make the morning rush a little more fun and enjoyable is to let music lead the way! Create a playlist of songs for your kids to use as cues for what to do as the morning progresses. One happy song that lets them know it’s time to rise and shine, and then a series of others, each signaling when it’s time to get dressed, pack that backpack, brush their teeth, or get ready to hit the road! This little trick takes the job of nagging away from you (yeah!), and makes the music do more of the dirty work.

3.   Plan for PLAY breaks during homework time 

Homework can be the bane of both kids’ and their parents' existence. Just follow parental tweets around 5pm everyday and you’ll see what I mean. One way to lighten the mood and tension level when 3rd grade math has got everyone in a tizzy is to STOP, HOP and ROLL! In other words… take a play break! Even 10-15 minutes of PLAY like a round of freeze dance or dribbling a ball can reduce stress, calm everyone down, boost moods, and get your child (and you), ready to get back to it again.

4. Make your own table cloth of awesome

This is one of my secret weapons to encourage playful communication, nag-free school-day reminders, and collective FUN for the whole family. I simply cover our dining table with inexpensive butcher or craft paper and then pop some bright markers and/or crayons in a pretty vase in the center. Then encourage your family to use this inviting blank space to doodle about their day, write a riddle for the rest of the family to figure out by dinnertime, jot down to-do’s for your kids, or offer suggestions for playful activities to enjoy together.

5. Make friends with “maybe”

In all the new school excitement many of us parental types can go a little crazy with the sign-up sheets and replying “yes!” to everything we’re asked to do. Lunch duty, room parent, field trips, oh my! While it is a great idea to volunteer and get active in our children's education, and studies show it helps our kids in loads of ways, there is a fine balance between helicopter and hummingbird. Hummingbird parents float in and out, giving kids space to fly for themselves as well. Pick a couple ways you want to get involved, fully commit to those, and then make friends with the word “maybe”. I’ve definitely gotten over zealous throughout the years and then come February I’m spent and resentful. Plus, when a few parents slap their names on everything, it leaves little room for others who may not be able to plan 6 months out, but would love to volunteer on the fly. I’ve been that parent, too. "Maybe" is a very acceptable response… get to know it.

6. Make those first days back, as stress-free and PLAY-FULL as possible

Back-to-school jitters are a very real thing. Remember your first days on a new job with all new comrades and a boss to impress?  

One of the best ways to help your kiddos ease back into a new school year is to try and keep that first week as stress-free, open, and playful as possible. Leave afternoons free from too much running around to appointments, activities, and errands. Instead, invite your kids to come home and tell you about their first days over some fun snacks, playful crafts, and outside free play. Kids want to talk about their new routine, classmates, teachers, and expectations. Providing stress-free, playful time together after school is the perfect on-ramp for open, “tell-me-everything” communication.

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