The Natural Way to Go Back to School
As a single, Type A, pitta mom, before Ayurveda my kids and I were over scheduled and busy. As we have learned more about Ayurveda, we are calmer and have plenty of time to enjoy simple pleasures in life. Whether enjoying impromptu dance parties, board games, or long walks, we take more time to have fun together. Understanding natural biological rhythms has provided keen insights on how to best function throughout the day. As the new school year is upon us, and for our own well-being, it is critical to utilize our energy in the most effective and efficient ways. Our children naturally fall into Ayurvedic rhythms. Our job is to foster the flow when challenges arise with melt-downs and hectic schedules. We use this information as an awareness tool of how to pivot back to balance.
MORNING – Mindfully Start the Day
The old saying, “Early to bed, early to rise,” follows suit with the biological rhythms. Personally, I have found having a routine in the mornings helps to keep the family on track. I typically awake at least one to two hours prior to my children to complete a little work, move my body with exercise, stretch, and meditate to start the day mindfully. Most mornings, I gently wake my children in a loving manner. I give a soft back rub or push their sleepy hair out of their eyes and say, “Morning my love.” We typically will have some peaceful music on versus television. Next comes warm lemon water as an important Ayurvedic start to the day to cleanse the digestive system. This is followed by a light and healthy breakfast. We ensure there is time allotted to make the school bell. The days that we rush, normally end up with someone yelling or crying. As Dr. Vasant Lad says,
“A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one's constitution. It also regularizes a person's biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.”
MID-DAY – Pack an Intelligent Lunch
Ayurvedic food is used to sustain balance in the body and as a medicine to heal. It is suggested that lunch is the largest meal, as our digestive fire is at its strongest. Taking the time to send a homemade lunch fuels the mind and body to sustain balance and creates mental clarity. Even though processed food is more convenient to pack, it can be laced with harmful additives and chemicals. Processed food lacks prana (life force) and intelligence that can disturb the intellectual rhythms. On the other hand, pure cooked food promotes balance and is easier to digest and absorb nutrients. This gives our precious little ones strength to make it through their mentally challenging school day. One strategy is to use a thermos to store a freshly cooked meal. The key is to find options that are likable and easy to prepare in the morning. Try experimenting with rice, bean, and vegetable combinations.
AFTERNOON – Utilize Mental Capacity
As our children complete their school day, we come back to the importance of a routine to maintain balance. Try to limit activities to ensure they have time for decompression. Our culture is one of busyness; yet our children need space to use their imaginations and be in the moment. Encourage movement or outdoor play after school, followed by a piece of fruit for a snack. In Ayurveda, it is recommended not to pair fruit with other food, making fruit the perfect snack option. Next, while a light dinner is being prepared, have children complete homework and studying before 6pm as our brain function starts to decrease in the evening hours. Try to have the entire family sit down for a meal as often as possible. A practice that works well with my family is to start with gratitude and then I ask leading questions. “Tell me about the best part of your day.” “What was the hardest part of your day?” “Who did you eat lunch with or play with on the playground?”
NIGHT – Transition Peacefully to Sleep
During the kapha times of the day we are in our sleep transitions. After 6pm, it is time to wind down from the day, unplug from electronics, and spend quality time with loved ones. Not having time to decompress will interrupt our ability to sleep. Research has confirmed that sleep deprivation leads to diminished mental performance. Ayurveda considers sleep to be a basic building block for good mind/body health, just like our food choices. Taking time to snuggle up with our little ones to read a book or play a game not only will aid in better sleep, it will build strong family bonds.
Parenting is challenging yet rewarding, and teaching our children how to play into the natural rhythms of the day will lead to a lifetime of balance. In closing, as with anything, these are merely guidelines to follow. Of course, there are circumstances in which we are not able to start our day mindfully, pack an intelligent lunch, or gracefully transition to bed. All we can do for sure is be mindful that when there are outbursts from our kids or we feel like we cannot keep up with daily pressures, we will remember to take a moment to reflect on the day and where we could have gotten off track. Fortunately, tomorrow is a new day to begin again.