Do you dread the end of summer vacation and all the obligations of the school year that seem to happen all at the same time? A routine can help.
There's not really a right or wrong answer about how to set up a routine — the real answer is whatever works for you. The end goal of a routine is to reduce your mental workload: if you already have things planned, you don't have to stress about planning them! And while you might not be able to anticipate emergencies, there are a handful of things that you can plan for.
Establish routines for sleep, homework, mealtimes, exercise, and fun to make the most of the time you have in each day.
A regular sleep schedule is one of the best ways to prevent fatigue, exhaustion, and daytime sleepiness. It also makes you more likely to get enough sleep, which is crucial for children and students who are growing and learning so much all the time.
When school is on the horizon, you can start adjusting your sleep schedule in increments of 15 minutes or half an hour. If you want to go to bed at 9:00 on a school night but have been going to bed at 11:00 all summer, try going to bed at 10:30 first, then 10:00, then 9:30 — instead of skipping all the way to 9:00. "Start the bedtime shift about a week early if you have kids aged 5–10; older kids can shift in a shorter time," says Ingrid Sorensen, mother of nine and professional organizer.
Keep in mind that sleep is the end of the routine, not the whole routine. An hour or so before bed, start to wind down. Turn off your TV, computer, or tablet so the bright light doesn't keep you awake. Take a relaxing shower or bath and change into your pajamas or comfy clothes. Do a relaxing, screen-free activity such as reading, journaling, or gentle yoga. When it's time to get in bed, keep the room dark, cool, and quiet (white noise is OK). If you are having trouble falling asleep after 30 minutes in bed, get up and do a relaxing, screen-free activity until you feel sleepy.
One of the best things you can do to make sleep easier is to only use your bed for sleep. Don't do homework, play games, or eat in bed — teach your body and brain that the bed is only for sleep.
Homework might be your least favorite part of school, but it's one of those things that you just have to get done. A homework schedule helps you develop good study habits and prevents you from procrastinating.
Younger students may need a parent's help to establish a homework schedule, whereas teens or college students can structure their own time around things like work and extracurriculars.
When setting up a routine for younger students, make sure that their wishes and concerns are heard — some kids want to jump right into homework after school, others want to play first. Either is fine as long as the homework gets done!
You should also establish how much homework or study time to set aside each day. An elementary school student may only have 30 minutes of homework, but a college student may be studying for multiple hours every day. Either way, set aside a realistic amount of time each day.
Choose a quiet, distraction-free area to designate as a homework spot, and keep any supplies handy (paper, pencil sharpener, laptop charger, etc.). The dining room at home is a great option for K–12 students, but if you're a college student, your dorm or apartment may not be optimal. The library or a study center is almost always the best idea. When you can stay focused and work faster, you'll have more time for fun and relaxation too.
As with any routine, consistency is key. Homework time should be the same time every day. Or, if school day schedules vary because of work or activities, try to schedule the same time for each day of the week: make each Monday the same, each Tuesday the same, etc.
Stick to homework time like you stick to class time, and re-schedule study time rather than canceling it altogether.
Healthy eating might be one of the trickiest routines to establish. It's just so easy to rely on microwave meals or swing through a drive-through on your way home. But when you have a meal plan and are able to shop for the things you'll need, you're already two steps ahead and that much more prepared to stick to healthy habits.
Whether shopping for yourself or a family, make a budget and stick to a shopping schedule. If you are able to get all the necessities at the same time, you won't be tempted to snag unhealthy snacks on a last-minute grocery run.
When planning family meals, keep the family's schedule in mind. You might need quick meals on weeknights with a lot of extracurricular activities, but weekends may have more time for cooking and sitting down together. Keep track of old favorites and new recipes that people enjoy so you can return to them often.
For between mealtimes, keep a stock of healthy snacks — fruit and veggies, nuts and legumes, and whole grain toast or crackers are all great ideas.
Make healthy eating as easy and accessible as you can so that keeping up with it is easy.
If you've been following the HempLucid blog for the last few weeks, you know how important exercise is for staying mentally and physically healthy. During high-stress times like a new semester, these benefits are even more important.
Before you stress out too much about making time to exercise, remember how much exercise you're already getting — if you walk to school or walk a lot between different buildings on campus, you might not need to squeeze an extra workout in.
If you are looking for help setting up a workout routine, Forbes has some great tips:
- Get it done first — if you can wake up half an hour earlier and work out first, you can rest easy knowing it's done for the day.
- Sneak in little workouts throughout the day — if waking up earlier doesn't work for you, try things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the door, playing with your kids or pets, etc.
- Keep it scheduled — treat workouts like any other appointment and try not to skip them.
- Keep workout clothes handy — any little things you can do to make working out less of a chore, the better.
- Fuel your body — healthy eating makes exercise easier because you're less likely to run out of steam.
You shouldn't make a routine for only "boring" stuff or necessities. It's just as important to schedule time for fun, non-school-related activities to reduce stress (which will improve overall mood and can boost the immune system). As a family, as an apartment or dorm, or with your friend group, make time to do something fun at least once a week.
Go to the park, go to the movies, or get together for a game night — whatever you choose, strive for a guilt-free fun activity where you don't have to worry about school obligations, at least for a while. You should also schedule me-time at least once a week or every couple weeks. As much as you love your family or roommates, alone time can let you rest and recharge in a way nothing else does.
Hemp Can Help
The hemp plant is full of amazing compounds that can help you find balance in your life — and at HempLucid, we want to expedite that process as much as possible so that you can make the most of your wellness journey and get back to a life you love.
If you're looking for a super easy way to incorporate CBD into your routine, we suggest our Soft-Gel Capsules. They're easy to include in the morning, with lunch, or at bedtime, especially if you already take vitamins or medicine at the same time each day. And CBD is a great helper because it supports the endocannabinoid system for overall balance.
We also cannot recommend our Water Soluble CBN tincture enough. Good sleep is the foundation of almost everything else, and cannabinol offers great support for relaxation and sleep. This tincture is easy to incorporate with water or tea as part of your bedtime routine.
HempLucid wishes you the best of luck in this new school year, and we hope the tips in this article help you set yourself up for success.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is presented purely for educational purposes and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any condition. As always, consult your doctor before introducing a new supplement to your routine.
Personal interview; Ingrid Sorensen, homemaker, Utah Young Mother of the Year 2008, professional organizer; July 25, 2022
Back to School Sleep Tips; Danielle Pacheco; Sleep Foundation; accessed July 2022
How to Make a Better Homework Schedule for Your Family; Lisa Linnell-Olsen; Very Well Family; accessed July 2022
3 Tips for Keeping a Handle on College Homework; Ramona Creel; Smead; accessed July 2022
11 Simple Ways to Adopt a Healthy, Sustainable Eating Pattern; Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD; Healthline; accessed July 2022
Planning Meals for a Family; Janis G. Hunter; Katherine L. Cason, PhD; Clemson Cooperative Extension, Home & Garden Information Center; accessed July 2022
How To Make Time For Exercise—Even When You're Super Busy; Noma Nazish; Forbes; accessed July 2022