Back to School Survival Guide

Keep your child’s back-to-school experience as stress-free as possible

As August winds down and September looms, kids are getting ready to go back to school, which means transitioning from hazy, lazy days to those full of work and structure. This can make many families snap into stress mode, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some general tips to help keep your child’s back-to-school experience as stress-free as possible:

  • Accept the fact that all kids (no matter the age) will be cranky for the first two weeks back to school. Keep demands and schedules as light as possible until you and your child adjust to the new school schedule.
  • Work through any of your own anxious feelings about back-to-school. Children pick up on spoken and unspoken anxiety. The more relaxed you are about school the more relaxed your kids will be.
  • Never let your child hear you speak negatively about her teacher. Be positive and remember that a teacher who did not work well for your neighbor’s child may turn out to be your child’s favorite.
  • Try to connect your child with one or two peers he would like to get to know better during the early weeks of school. This will help ease the transition from “summer” friends to school friends.
  • Children are especially sensitive to change. Acknowledge that any kind of change—negative or positive—creates stress. A little awareness coupled with creativity and compassion can make your back-to-school day stress free!

When AGEs form, they produce free radicals, which accumulate over time, leading to oxidative stress. Free radicals cause cells to break down and as we age, we lose our ability to fight their effects. Oxidative stress builds up, damaging DNA and other cells, causing signs of aging and chronic diseases. By increasing AGE exposure through the diet, we are contributing to oxidative stress and inflammation. These detrimental processes lead to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, atherosclerosis, and arthritis.

Food for Thought—and Balance

Another tool that can help the school year go smoothly for your kids is diet. The wrong foods can throw children out of balance very easily. Children need nutritious foods for their minds and bodies to run properly. Studies show that a well-fed child is a less stressed child—and less at risk of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Nutrition is an important part of the equation. Sugar, caffeine, and food coloring can increase the jitters so steer clear of foods high in these non-nutritive substances. A good, balanced breakfast with protein and healthy fats such as nuts or avocado can help your child start the day feeling centered. Non-traditional alternatives such as smoothies, protein bars, and even soup also work for breakfast. If your child is having trouble sleeping, you may want to incorporate supplements such as Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B, which are all useful in helping to regulate emotions and encourage calm.

Lunchbox Makeover

Here are some healthy lunchbox alternatives that go beyond the monotony of plain old PB&J!
With this week’s worth of meals that will have your kids begging for more:
Monday: Mini quiche with cheddar, broccoli, and carrots; oatmeal mini muffins; sliced apples and grapes
Tuesday: Leftover chicken-pesto pasta salad; carrot and red pepper strips with hummus for dipping; pumpkin pie muffins; sliced strawberries
Wednesday: Veggie burger “Stars” (or tuna patty “Stars” or chicken-veggie meatballs); baked sweet potato fries; sliced cucumbers; very berry mini muffins
Thursday: Chicken drumsticks —put foil around the base as a “holder” (or tofu kebabs with sweet & sour dipping sauce); “confetti” veggie couscous; celery sticks with nut butter; zucchini mini muffins
Friday FUNDAY: Pita pocket veggie pizza (or banana bites: whole wheat tortilla spread with nut butter of choice, rolled around a banana, then sliced into rounds); pear slices; plain yogurt with berries; chocolate chip beet mini muffins

If you want support in helping your family eat well to minimize stress and keep everyone balanced as you head into the school year, check out my Instagram @karenmalkinhealth.

For more healthy and delicious lunch ideas (and dinner too!) please visit my website for over 450 FREE receipes

Have questions? Follow me on Instagram @KarenMalkinHealth or email

To your good health,