Time to Face Reality and Let the Preparations Begin!
Oh No! It can’t be the end of the school holidays! Not Yet! I’m Not Ready! I’m not ready to head back to schedules, to routines, to expectations and to traffic – argh. I love school holidays but sadly reality is calling and the diary is reminding me daily that it’s time to leave the cocoon of our holiday haven and start preparing for the inevitable. So with a sigh, and a sense of panic, because I’ve left it to the last minute as usual, I need to get the preparations under way.
So first things first – clothing!
Why is it that children can live in the same shoes for almost 12 months with plenty of room for seek and destroy activities and yet within the 6 weeks of the school holidays they manage to grow at a rate that would assume you have been stuffing their cupcakes with growth hormones! Well for whatever reason they all seem to require new school shoes at the beginning of the school year, my daughter being no exception.
As a chiropractor I can’t stress enough the importance of getting their school shoes fitted properly. Did you know that:
- on average, your child will spend approximately 30 hours in their school shoes per week
- each foot has 125,000 sweat glands and that a pair of feet produces about 500ml of sweat per day (phew)
- while walking, when they lift their heel off the ground, they put one half of their body weight through their toes! 
No wonder the mechanics of the foot is so important to the functioning of the rest of the body. If your feet are buggered then it will only be a matter of time before your knees, hips and back join them – just ask a granny (any one will do). They know about feet!
So it makes sense to get their shoes fitted properly at a specialist shoe store because feet, like their owners, are not all the same! High arches, low arches, no arches, thin, wide, short, long – the list goes on and a specialist will find the right shoe for your child. Not only will the shape and mechanical needs of your child’s foot be met but they will also allow enough growing room in the shoe to get you well into the year without it becoming a hindrance – too big effects their gait (the way they walk) as much as too small does so don’t go too big to save money because you may end up spending those savings on health care instead. Look for shoes that are light, durable, cushioned and supportive and when you have all of that then you can choose fashionable – an impossible task in the school shoe department I believe!Backpacks Matter!
So the shoes are now sorted it’s time to get onto the backpack.
The bane of all chiropractors because not only is it nearly impossible to find one that fits a child perfectly but they refuse to wear them properly because cool is the rule!
Every year I watch as kids either turn themselves into human turtles struggling with what appears to be their whole world strapped to their back, balancing precariously between upright and permanently trapped on their back, legs flailing in the air while they desperately try to right themselves OR they sling their bag over one shoulder and end up adopting the Leaning Tower of Pisa in a Gale Force Wind position as they struggle to lug their enormous load home! Neither is an attractive sight to a chiropractor!For many of us the school will have their own backpack but for others it’s off to be bombarded with choices – princesses, trains, superheroes, wheels, handles, side pockets, no pockets.. it can all be a little daunting to say the least. So this is what you need to look for and how your child should wear their backpack:
- The length of the bag should not be longer than your child’s back. When worn it should sit at the base of their back and not be higher than the top of their shoulders.
- It should have wide padded shoulder straps to help take the load of the bag.
- Ideally there should be a chest and waist strap to help, when worn (argh), to distribute the weight off your child’s back and hips.
- There should be multiple pockets to help distribute the weight throughout the backpack. Place the heaviest items in the pocket closest to the spine with the lighter items towards the front. If there is too many items then get your child to carry some in their arms rather than in the backpack or leave them at home or school.
- The material should be light and durable to minimise the weight of the backpack. In a good backpack there will be a supportive frame to help it maintain its shape and keep it close to your child’s back.
- When worn the backpack (fully loaded) should not weigh more than 10% of your child’s body weight according to the Chiropractic Association of Australia (great organisation that one) so as to prevent back pain and promote healthy spinal growth.
OK we now have the essentials sorted! So what’s left? Apart from, of course, making their chiropractic appointment to correct all damages done in the holidays from the extreme sports attempted in the backyard and pool, the over working of the neck and shoulder muscles from the marathons of iPad use and the strains associated from the contortions assumed in those long sleep ins.
All that leaves is the hardest challenge of all! Getting the routines back. Stop screaming! I feel your pain! During the holidays bed times and meal plans in our house have gone the way of the fax machine – they exist but no one has been using them! Well it’s time to get back in touch with old and familiar technology.
Getting your kids slowly used to going to bed at a reasonable hour and eating more regularly, rather than grazing like a kid goat who permanently keeps the levels of the fridge and biscuit barrel at half mast, is important!
I am fairly confident that the teacher is not going to be as tolerant as you to the constant demand to feed the hidden stomach of your child so getting them used to scheduled eating times will help them cope with what will feel like deprivation of a medical experiment kind when they return to school. Also having your child falling asleep before they can complete writing their name won’t endear them to their new teacher either.Even though it will mean a struggle try getting them to bed 10 minutes earlier or up 15 minutes earlier each day through this last week and the first morning won’t be quite so horrendous! Getting those bed times and meals sorted will pay dividends, not only for them but you too, because I can assure you having a call from the teacher re your child’s behavior is about as much fun as a call from the dentist!
For me, thinking about all of this is rather horrid (did I mention I love the holidays) but by taking my head out of the ostrich position and organising my daughter, and myself, life at the start of term will be easier and an easier life is well worth the organisation.
So if you are also feeling the same about the start of school then I hope these tips help and by adopting a few you too will be free to enjoy what little time is left of the holidays without the dread of Day 1 lurking in the background! Good Luck!
Happiness in Health