Some 'please considers' for the school year
I love September. Yes, the days are getting shorter, but we still have some beautiful, warm sunny days before the rains return. The air is crisp in the morning, but warms up as the sun slides over to the Western sky. The school is in high gear---pencils are sharp, and backpacks are filling up with new books, homework, and permission slips to bring home. It’s a very busy time for families. But it’s also exciting too.
Kids appear to mature and grow in leaps and bounds over the summer! What happened? Joey seems two inches taller and pre-teen. Claire is starting to look (and act) like a regulation teenager. New friends start to call and show up after school. Some friends from last year have fallen by the wayside. Whatever happened to Erin or Steve? The new school year creates opportunities for children to expand and contract their social circle.
It’s a good time for families to consider the autumn schedule. How much activity is enough and how much is too much? Kids have a huge appetite for novelty and have trouble knowing when enough is enough. Parents want their children to be successful and feel competent. But where do we draw the line?
How can we forge a school year that is active, but not “crazy busy”? How can we make sure that we accomplish important tasks, but also have the time to relax and connect? This is especially important in families with two working parents or single parents. Time is in short supply.
Here are some “please considers”:
- Schedule regular family meetings. Sunday evenings are a good time for family members to look at how life is progressing. What’s working well this year? What should go by the wayside? Is everyone doing their part? Make sure to find ample opportunities to focus on the positive. What seems to be going better this year? What changes need to be made? Better to apply useful countermeasures earlier in the school year.
- Family meals are important! Regular family mealtime is important for staying connected and building communication, especially as kids get older. Teens don’t want to sit still. They itch to get back to their cell phones, texting and Instagram. Don’t get sucked into their demands. Families that regularly eat together have much better communication skills, especially when the going gets tough.
- Limit electronics! Please, please, please don’t let your kids overuse these devices! Set clear limits and stick to them. No smartphones at the dinner table! Electronics go off an hour before bedtime. Homework gets done before game time. Keep these rules simple and don’t let these kiddo’s nickel and dime you into bankruptcy! They will beg and plead— “PLEASE JUST FIVE MORE MINUTES!” Stand firm! Don’t let them annoy you into adding more time just to get them to be quiet.
- Establish bedtimes that support adequate rest. Many children are suffering from sleep deprivation, especially teenagers. There is just so much to do and not enough time to do it. So, everyone stays up later and later. The net effect—they get to school with their eyes half closed and their minds asleep.
Here are the guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation
Mom’s and Dad’s—don’t forget that you need your sleep too! Staying up too late makes for grumpy parents! Many providers feel that teenagers who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder are actually sleep deprived—which can result in the same symptoms.
Hours of Sleep
|Kids 6-13||9-11 Hours|
|Teenagers 14-17||8-10 Hours|