If you’re like me, come summer it’s tempting to fall into Endless Weekend Mode. Our sleep patterns change (ask me about our “bedtime” right now.) Maybe we get tired of going to the gym, and exercise becomes a daily meandering bike ride whenever we feel like it (I’m right there). Perhaps we get so enthusiastic about grilling that we can’t quite adjust to regular eating when the weather gets colder. (You mean I have to use the oven?)
And after three months of a relaxed, routine-lite lifestyle, the end of August can come along like a rude awakening. Suddenly we’ve got school hours and activities to contend with, and have to work to fit all those healthy habits in to a much tighter schedule.
Luckily there are lots of ways we can set ourselves up for a successful school year all summer long. How?
1. Set the tone with sleep.
I’ve never been the mom who sends my kids to bed at 7 PM, and especially in the summer – when it’s light out until 9:30 or 10 – I’m totally fine with a later bedtime for them.
But I’ve found that, on the nights they go to bed an hour or two later than they would during the school year, I’m tempted to then stay up an hour or two later than I usually would. And since I can’t exactly sleep in until 10 AM every day, the result is a sluggish, grumpy morning…and a hard adjustment come the beginning of the school year.
Like many other things in life, I’ve found that when I take care of myself I’m in a better position to take care of my family. And when I set the tone for the household by going to bed at a decent time during the summer, the school-year transition is much easier.
2. Keep planning meals.
Between relaxed routines and the ease of tossing food on the grill, it’s easy to let regular meal planning go out the window. But schedules are tighter and evenings are busier during the bustle of the school year, and getting in the grab & go habit can lead to too many trips to the drive-thru in September.
I try to keep up the habit of menu planning, even if our summer meals are more relaxed and casual than they are during the school year. That way, I won’t be completely out of the habit in the fall, when I really need that menu to put healthy meals on the table.
3. Preserve summer’s bounty.
One of my favorite ways to bring summer’s healthy habits forward into the school year is by preserving fresh, local produce to last all year ‘round.
Right now farm stands, farmer’s markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) provide an abundance of super-fresh, inexpensive, and often organic fruits and veggies.
Come November, I’ll be pining for those fresh berries and greens – and the cost will have gone way up, making it more difficult to feed my family healthy foods on a budget.
So all summer long, I freeze veggies and can fruits. That way my sons’ school-lunch PBJs will be made with homemade, all-natural strawberry jam, and for dinner I can reach into the freezer and pull out the frozen organic green beans I got for a song and a dance from my CSA.
Best yet? All these things can help your family have a happier, healthier back-to-school without having to give up on that carefree summer feeling now. Which reminds me: it’s time to slap on some sunscreen and hit the pool.