Congratulations – to you, and your little ones! You survived.
Back to school week can be stressful at the best of times – after the summer holidays, late nights and lazy mornings, it’s a shock to the system getting back into school. Every year brings about a bigger workload and the expectation that kids should somehow fall straight back into the routine.
That’s not how it works though!
I don’t care whether you’ve got a 4 year old baby in reception, or a 15 year old baby starting GCSE year. They’re both in the same place in their brain. Fight, flight, scared and anxious. Even if they won’t tell you outright, the changes in their routine, the demands being placed upon them from 9-3, and the fact that they’re out of the familiar & safe environment of home will be activating their stress centres.
How to help your kids adapt
Ease them in gently. Work with their teachers to slowly get them back into the swing of things! Don’t go gung-ho into high expectations and disappointment if they don’t instantly conform.
A child’s brain is different to an adult’s brain, and while that may be really obvious when you’re looking at a four year old, the same is true in a teenager. Their prefrontal cortex, the bit that controls impulses, decision making, social interaction etc isn’t fully developed. Even at 15!
They need a little extra support around stressful times, and getting back to school is definitely one of those times!
Omega 3 Oil
Omega 3 has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. There have been countless people claiming it’s helped all different signs of dis-ease within their body. For me, taking a high quality omega 3 fish oil is a daily ritual. We use it because I know that our lifestyles are inherently stressful (physically, chemically & emotionally) which automatically puts us in a state of fight or flight. When that happens, our systems create inflammation as a defence response. The problem, is that when we’re in an inflammatory state, we perpetuate the negative cycle. I use a tsp of Nordic Oil (which you can grab off Amazon – no affiliate links here) for each of us, each day.
As your brain develops, it goes through a series of steps. For proper function, each step has to be taken in the right order. It’s one of the reasons I always want to find out if children crawled before they walked – the patterns are there for a reason, and if they’re skipped, there’s often something that ends up out of sync further down the line.
One of the simplest ways to activate the prefrontal cortex is to go and play outside with friends. Movement is LIFE! By getting them off their bums (we all know sitting for periods creates inflammation) and out into the park, or climbing a tree, the movement integrates the two sides of the brain. The laughter amongst friends isn’t just an added bonus, it boosts your child’s serotonin levels, which is essential for their mental health. It’ll also help to reduce the meltdowns that often come at the end of the first week.
This is the one that everyone seems to want to shy away from, but limiting screen time before bed is crucial to a good nights sleep. We all know how restorative sleep is, but when they are working so hard to please everyone all day, the rest their body needs is essential.
Blue light has been linked to a load of different health concerns from heart disease and diabetes through to depression and cancer. What we do know, is that kids are spending more hours per day in front of devices than ever before, and it’s messing up their circadian rhythms. In our house (my kids are 5 & 2), we have no TV after dinner, which is around 5-5:30 and bedtime is 7-7:30 so they have a couple of hours without screens. I’d obviously like to reduce it further, but I’m being real here!!
There are some wonderful apps out there for meditation, including child specific meditations. My favourite two are Headspace (more for adults/teenagers) and Stop, Breathe & Think (has children’s meditations too!). They both have 10 minute sessions on there, which is really lovely to do together before and/or after school. If you can make it part of your routine, then it’ll soon become something they will look forward to. The important thing to stress here though – don’t make it about emptying your head, otherwise it’s just another chore! Look forward to it as a bit of peace and quiet.
I couldn’t go through my list without adding this little gem. When your spine is adjusted, the prefrontal cortex lights up because it’s been activated. There’s a direct link between the spine and the brain, so if you want your brain functioning at a higher level, then you gotta get your spine moving properly. How do you know if you’re subluxated? You get your chiropractor to check, of course! 😉
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and I’ll probably go back and add to it as things come into my head. But for now, enjoy the weekend with your shattered kiddos! Sending you all the love xx