It is hard to believe that back to school season is upon us already! For some, this is an exciting time as you and your kids look forward to the school year ahead. For others, it can be a time of fear or dread as you get back into the rush of full schedules, social pressures, nights of homework and somehow fitting it all in before bed!
With the change in schedule, it is even more important to keep your mindful practices going. This can also be a great time to start some new mindfulness routines centered around school and the changes coming for your child and family. As always, this is a nonjudgmental, flexible approach so don’t feel pressure to do it 100% correctly and to feel in complete bliss on day one. We can be real with each other. You still may have some morning when one kid leaves the house without shoes or you feel panicked as you rush your kid’s forgotten lunch back to school while being late to your first meeting of the morning. Real life happens, but these small strategies can be a way to work a little bit of mindfulness into your back to school routine.
- Start Slow: Allow 5-10 quiet minutes in the morning. This may require a slightly earlier bedtime as to not impact sleep, but the idea of having a quiet, slower time in the morning can create a sense of peace for the entire day. This can be sitting quietly while eating breakfast, a chance to look at or read a short book in the morning, listening to a meditation or peaceful music while you and your family get ready…it is whatever will feel calming and fill up your mindfulness cup for the day.
- Pump up the Positive: Words of affirmation can be a simple and powerful tool to help your child have a great day. Encouraging that he or she can tackle the day ahead, that you believe in them, that you know that they can do it, are all messages that stick with your child and can encourage each time it comes to mind for your child throughout the day.
- Check your Breath: Now, you may think of this as checking to make sure that your child brushed his or her teeth but what I’m actually wanting you to check is how you and your child are breathing as you drive to school. Are you breathing short, rushed breaths? Does your chest feel tight or tense? Take a moment to stop and focus on taking a few slow deep breaths together. You can do this at the bus stop, in the car rider line or as you walk out the door but intentionally slowing down and breathing in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4 will calm your nervous system and prepare you to enter your day with less stress.
- Grow Gratitude: In the same way that you pump up positive statements for your child prior to the school day, focusing on statements of gratitude at the end of your day can help center and focus your child’s experiences as positive thoughts rather than worries, stressors or negative experiences. As a family, share something from your day that you are grateful for and see how it can change your school day or work day experience.
Taking time to incorporate mindfulness into your daily, back to school routine is a way to choose joy and peace in a busy time of year. As with all things, it is okay to start small and know that you will mess up. Give yourself forgiveness and grace in your mindfulness journey… after all, that is part of the process!