The languid, lazy, and often crazy summer holidays are drawing to a close and whether you enjoyed having the kids home or whether they’re getting on your nerves, it’s time to start thinking about going back to school.
It’s important to start the preparations a couple of weeks in advance; otherwise the school year will jump on you and you’ll frantically be trying to sort out lunches, clothes, books and transport during the first week.
Here are a few tips to get the kids, and you, ready for the new school year, including aspects of health, what to shop for and how to pack a nutritious lunch box.
Get the kids health ready for school
When we think about school prep, we don’t think to consider health first, yet it’s such an important aspect of getting school ready. You don’t want your kid falling ill during the first few weeks when sports teams are chosen, friendships are made and lunch break hangouts are secured. Here are a few tips to get them health ready.
Eyes – Make an appointment for a thorough eye test for the weeks leading up to the new semester. Kids are often not aware of their sight problems and it can have serious effects on their intake of knowledge and contributions in class.
Teeth – Reinstate a good dental routine well before the term starts. It’s easy to slack a little on vacation, when camping or sleeping out, but it’s important to get them back to a 2-minute brush session twice a day and regular flossing.
Vaccinate – You can take your kids for a meningitis vaccination. This will protect them when the autumn cold and stiffs set in in the classroom.
First aid – Make sure your own first aid kit is replenished and properly stocked. Ideally, you want one in the house and one in the car, in case someone gets hurt on the sports field and you need to rush over. Simply having headache tablets and sunscreen for those first few days in the sun will already come in handy.
Sleep – Start one week before school starts to get the kids in a healthy sleeping routine again. Set their bedtime earlier each night and wake them up a little earlier every morning so the first school morning isn’t too difficult and they don’t fall asleep in class.
Listen – Your children may feel anxious, nervous or jittery leading up to the first day. Make a point of noticing their mood and actions and listen to them if they want to talk. Suggest doing a practice run to school and back or be ready with some encouraging words or an attentive ear.
The physical prep
You will definitely have to set out at least one full day before school starts to sort out all the physical preparations. If the school has a uniform, make sure to buy this in time – you don’t want your kid to show up on the first day with a too-small shirt or a worn jersey. If there’s no uniform, make sure your kids have a proper autumn wardrobe with clothes that fit well. When the temperatures start to drop in a month or two, you won’t have to rush to the shops.
Find out what sport your children will be continuing with and what kit they will need. Couches often start training quickly and intensely, so make the shift back to physical exercise easier by ensuring your kids have proper trainers, sports bras for the girls and padding for the football players. Also buy new water bottles and sunscreen for them to take with, as the last summer of the summer can still be scorching.
If the school sent out a books and stationary list the year before, be sure to buy all the things on there. It will save you a lot of trouble once the term gets underway. New pens and notepads might also inspire the motivation to study hard and pay attention in class.
Get your pantry lunchbox ready
You yourself also have some prepping to do to make your own life easier. Research has shown that packed lunches often contain less nutrients than school lunches, yet there are so many options for a healthy packed lunch. The key is simply to stock up your pantry.
Whole-wheat base – Be sure to always have some form of whole-wheat food in the cupboard as a filling, energizing base. This could be tortillas, wraps, pita bread, crackers or rolls.
Vegetables – Few kids enjoy a packed salad, but you can easily incorporate greens and veg on their sandwiches or wraps. Lettuce, tomato, peppers and even sweet corn or hummus go great with meat. Make sure you have these on hand.
Lean meat – Add lean meats like turkey or grilled chicken to their meals instead of greasy ground beef or processed slices of ham. You can cook a large batch once a week and refrigerate or freeze.
Fruit – Instead of packing a chocolate bar, add a banana, and apple or a sliced fruit cup to their lunch. It will sustain their energy levels much longer. Make sure you’re always stocked up on fruit in the house.
Drink – Replace sugar laden drinks with 100% juices, plain milk, coconut water or even fruit or mint infused tap water. Buy enough for a week and keep it in the fridge.
Now put all of these together and you have a balanced, nutritious and delicious lunch with a snack and a drink that will keep them full, lean and energized.