Adults should adopt the back-to-school mindset to be healthier

My wife has a lot of patience.

I’m not saying that because she’s been married to me for 30 years; she’s a kindergarten teacher.

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Teaching - like medicine - is a calling, and teachers - like doctors - do a lot more behind the scenes than most people realize.

A teacher’s hours extend far beyond their pupils’ school days that usually end around 3 pm. Most teachers remain at work at least another two hours, marking, doing prep, attending staff meetings, sponsoring clubs or coaching.

My wife is often working on report cards, marking and preparing for her classes at home during weekday evenings and on weekends.

Though you might think teachers have the best holidays, they’re not getting paid during the summer break, and each professional day is also a workday, attending meetings, conferences and workshops. Teachers were doing unpaid prep work during the summer, reviewing lesson plans, setting up their classrooms and putting up bulletin boards.

I feel my wife has answered an extra special calling as a kindergarten teacher.

Our first years at school shape how we think about our selves, our peers, school and the bigger world.

As Robert Fulghum wrote in his 80s popular book, “All I really need to know about life I learned in kindergarten.”

Though most of us are not teachers or students going back to school, we could all benefit by going back to the basics and getting into the back to school mindset. Here are my tips for parents with kids starting the new school year (and for all of us grownups who must remember to be good parents to ourselves).

1. Get into a good routine.

In the first month, every family finetunes the daily routine to get back into the groove; after that, the daily activities become habits. When we encounter problems, such as sleeping in, feeling rushed or just being grumpy every morning, we need to re-evaluate our routines.

Be kind to your future self. What can you do today to feel less stressed and happier tomorrow?

2. Plan your meals. Prepare for the week’s meals the weekend before. Keep your fridge stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. Make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Prepare the next day’s breakfast and lunch the night before along with the backpacks or other items you don’t want to be searching for in the morning.

3. Get into a good sleep routine.

Ensure everyone in your home is going to bed at a decent, regular time with lights out and screens off. The light from our mobile devices can disturb the sleep of children and adults alike. If you need to sleep in on weekends, you’ve accumulated a sleep debt during the week.

4. Begin each day with positive intentions, and back at home, share the good of the day.

When my kids were young, I loved driving them to school. Before they hopped out of the car, I’d remind them of the three tasks of the day: learn something new, help someone else and have fun.

At dinner time, each of my kids would tell me what they learned, who they helped and what they enjoyed. We would all share the good of the day: what went well and how we were helped by others.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in life, read his blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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