Written by: Coach Kelley
You made it! You survived eight weeks of your kids asking for a snack every 20 minutes, only to complain they’re bored and still hungry a few minutes later. Back to school means back to routine - homework, gymnastics practice, music lessons, soccer practice. There’s no way they could possibly be hungry or bored with their power packed schedules.
Now, how do we prevent back to school/gym burnout? We’ve all been there. September hits and cooler temperatures lead way to pumpkin spice everything, including a master plan to take over the world. Then about two weeks into the new school year/semester the kids start to feel tired and are often dragging themselves to school, practice, and extracurricular activities. So how do we get them to pace themselves and avoid burnout?
It’s totally normal for kids to not want to come to what was previously their favorite activity. Until they get used to their new schedule, you often just need ride it out. Here are some helpful strategies for adjusting to back to school and gym life:
Establish a regular bedtime and wake up routine. Studies have shown that waking up at the same time every day will help you sleep better at night. If you feel like you’re dragging your child out of bed in the morning, try making bedtime an hour earlier. It may take a few weeks, but they will acclimate faster to their new schedules if they keep regular sleep hours.
Commit to the activities you’ve signed up for. Once you’ve established your child’s routine, stick to it! No one wants to drag a child kicking and screaming to the gym but do it anyway. Once they are in the gym and moving their bodies, they will most likely forget how tired they are and be fine. Class is fun - remind your child how good it makes them feel. They get to meet new friends, learn new skills and get stronger.
If your child is on the competitive team, have them prepare their bag the night before. Make sure grips, leos, snacks, etc. are packed and ready to go. This will act as a good reminder of what your child has committed to.
Take notice of how your child feels at the beginning of the month vs. the end of the month. Most of the aches, pains, and soreness will have likely disappeared. Fatigue, sadness, and missing mom and dad will also have likely disappeared.
Get a gym buddy. Having friends in class and practice adds a social aspect which brings a little more fun into training.
In addition to gymnastics practice, try a little cross training. Cross training outside is a great way to stay motivated as the weather gets cooler.
Get their minds working. Just like our bodies, our minds need exercise, too. Choosing a book or puzzle to work on together is a great way to fire up those brain cells.
When it comes to my team kids, I often find these are just growing pains that will settle down once they get used to their new routine. After a month or so, most kids can sort those feelings out and you start to see their energy and confidence come back. Encourage your child to keep coming and they will grow more at ease with their new schedule and teammates. Try using positive reinforcement as opposed to bribes such as junk food or presents. I recommend setting small goals each day. Sometimes just showing up for practice or class is enough.
Remember, being fit and healthy should be about making your child feel great, increasing their self-esteem, and aiming to be their best. Tell them that each time they come to class they have done something good for themselves and celebrate that. Habits are created by the consistent daily activities we choose to put our time towards. The more consistent a child or adult is with their exercise routine, the easier it is to form healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Once it’s a habit, you just go on autopilot, and school and practice all become part of daily life.