The summer holidays seem to have flown by, and as we start a new school year, now is the perfect time to set some family goals; and these start with you! For many of you, the holiday season has been a welcome break from the daily morning rush to school. The first week back might be a shock to the system, but try and start positively. If you are calm in the morning, the whole household should follow and likewise, when it’s homework time. Let’s briefly reflect on this time last year, did you set any goals and did they last? If not, we can start again!
I am finally in my new home and one of my ‘new house, new start’ goals was to spend less time at a screen. So far it’s working well, as our general routine has changed and everything is different; plus there is a lot to do! I’m well aware that we can all slip into old habits and I’m determined to keep it up! Here are some motivational tips to set you up for the new school year ahead.
Kath’s tips for focusing the mind
It’s simple but very effective! After a bad night’s sleep, plans for a productive day can spiral out of control. You’re likely to suffer from irritability and lack of focus, whilst making bad food choices for comfort and relying on caffeine to get you through the day. Children who are late to bed are likely to struggle at school.
Adequate sleep is vital to your family’s health and limiting screen time before bed is an essential part of this. The light from the screen has a detrimental impact on our sleep hormone (melatonin), keeping you awake. Try to avoid having a television in the bedroom and allow at least an hour of screen-free time prior to sleep.
In Zimbabwe, I was brought up with an afternoon nap as part of our daily routine and to this day, I will take 40 winks if I’m flagging; feeling completely refreshed afterwards. It may not be feasible for everyone, but try it if you can, taking no longer than an hour.
Just keep moving!
Do you ever feel like your brain just isn’t working, as you stare into your computer screen with a mental block? Movement is essential if you’re struggling to focus. Take a short break to make a cup of tea, or step outside for a 10 minute walk and this should help clear your mind, encouraging the ideas to start flowing.
If your children are having trouble with their homework, there are a number of fun exercises you can try, such as bouncing a ball against the wall whilst practising their times tables, or reciting their spellings whilst trampolining (if you have one), or skipping. It really does work!
Start the day as you mean to go on
It’s easy for your healthy eating habits to slip during the holidays, but now is the perfect time to get back on track. If you and your family start the day with a nutritious breakfast, you’ll be more focussed and likely to continue the good eating habits throughout the day. Porridge, eggs or a delicious smoothie with yoghurt, fruit and leafy green vegetables, all make a fantastic breakfast and will give you sustained energy until lunch. Avoid starting the day with sugary cereals, as this will only result in a mid-morning energy crash.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will feed the brain and help with learning and concentration. Keep a bottle by your desk and if your child comes home from school exhausted, give them a big glass to boost their energy levels.
Try a digital detox day
In modern society it’s hard to avoid electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, but research shows that children should use these with caution; overuse can lead to learning or behavioural problems and lack of social interaction. As adults, many of us are guilty of too much screen time, (hence my new routine), but maybe now is the time to set an example and encourage good habits. Try a ‘digital detox day’ at the weekend and enjoy some family time together, without the use of screens. The simple activities such as walking, playing games and cooking together are great for family bonding.