The most important homework for my kids is the daily care of their own bodies.
I can keep an eye and give greater direction to my daughter in grade 8 and my son in grade 12. I can only hope that my son in university is getting enough sleep in his dorm and not skipping breakfast.
We encourage our kids to prepare for each day well in advance. This means a routine of making a healthy sandwich for lunch the night before and packing fluids and fruit in their schoolbags.
Though studying and completing their assignments is important, adequate rest is essential. Without guidance, teens can easily stay up past midnight and cheat on the 8 to 10 hours of sleep their brains and bodies need.
We grown-ups still need on average 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep each night and too often we let other matters take priority. It’s okay to let a minor family crisis steal a few nights’ sleep, but late night TV is a poor substitute for a proper rest.
With kids in school, the whole family can be rushed in the morning, and all of us could find ourselves eating – or not eating – breakfast on the run. If we don’t plan our lunch, we may end up skipping it or eating fast food.
I make it a point of eating healthy breakfast every day. This is particularly important on the busiest days. It doesn’t take much effort to eat a bowl of high-fibre cereal with skim milk with fresh blueberries, blackberries or a banana.
I pack my own lunch, usually a salad with fresh fruit and chicken breast or a sandwich on whole wheat bread. I also pack plenty of fruit and protein bars for my morning and afternoon breaks.
I also schedule physical activity into each day. This is crucial with high-stress and sedentary jobs. I swim 2000 metres at the pool each morning before the rest of the family wakes up. After a short workout in the weight room, I’m back home to have breakfast with the kids.
On most days, I can sneak out during my lunch hour to swim another 800 to 1000 metres at our community pool. Just 20 minutes of intense aerobic activity refreshes me more than a few cups of coffee.
Your homework assignment: Plan for the day ahead. Where will you schedule physical activity? What will you have for breakfast and lunch? And don’t forget: get to bed on time!