These will keep your life at home more sane during anther busy school year.
In many ways, late August rivals Christmastime for the busiest time of the year. The beginning of a new academic year affects the lives of millions in obvious and subtle ways. Traffic patterns change, long lines form at stores and doctor’s offices, evening and weekend hours fill up with activities, and dinner is shuffled from the family table to the couch, the car, or the fast food restaurant.
Before you get swept away, take a breath. Whether you’re a student or a paren of a student, don’t let another school year just happen to you. Consider making one or a few of these new year’s resolutions to help you re-enter the academic routine smoothly.
Sane screen use
Being in school now automatically implies spending lots of time on a computer or tablet, even for young students. Try and keep school-related screen use at reasonable levels, and reduce leisure-related screen time accordingly. Help yourself and your loved ones maintain good habits and avoid screen addiction with these resolutions:
- Designate a no-screen room in your home. For example, in the living room, you can read, nap, play board games, write, exercise, talk on the phone (no texting), fold laundry, etc—but no screens allowed.
- Take a 20-second break to look 20 feet away every 20 minutes while you are using a screen. Program reminders into your computer if you have to. Your eyes will thank you.
- Stop all screen use at 9 p.m. This will help you fall asleep at a reasonable hour, too.
- Wait until after dinner to use a screen for leisure. It’s natural to work while the sun is up and rest when darkness falls. Don’t mellow yourself out by curling up and watching a movie at 2 in the afternoon; it’ll be difficult to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
- Whenever possible, read on paper. Print out assignments or use the library to acquire hard copies of your readings. Manual note-taking is better for your brain, too.
Sustainable self care
- Pick one spot where clothes are allowed to reside temporarily. When you walk through the door of your house, apartment, or dorm room, you may be tempted to drop your gloves on the floor, your sweatshirt on the bed, and your scarf on your desk. Instead, designate one spot for collecting those items that you are going to use again that day or that you aren’t ready to put away yet. When I was in college, if my clothes weren’t in my laundry hamper, a drawer, or hanging in the closet, they were hanging on the back of my desk chair. I could always find them, and it made tidying up simple and rewarding.
- Never, ever, work on your bed. You can improve your posture and your concentration by working at a table, desk, or counter, and more importantly, you will protect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
- Reduce mindless snacking by preparing snacks and meals in advance. You don’t necessarily have to cook a week’s worth of dinners on Sunday (I prefer to spend the Lord’s Day socializing and hiking after Mass rather than spending all day in the kitchen, myself.) Maybe Monday night is your day for doling out the rest of the week’s snacks in bags so that you aren’t tempted to eat more than a portion’s worth when you get home at night.
- Pick a day of the week for applying body lotion, and don’t forget.
- Avoid forgetting your meal planning and lots of other important tasks by writing them in your planner. Even if you make your own from an inexpensive spiral notebook, keep your to-do lists in one physical (not digital) location. I love my Blessed Is She mini planner. It reminds me to celebrate saints on their feast days and helps me fold spiritual and service-oriented tasks into my week. I can already tell I’m going to pray many more novenas this year because of this planner!