Beat the Back To School Blues: Getting back into a routine without missing out on Summertime Fun

The end of summer is near and that means one thing for parents and adults alike: back-to-school season is upon us. While the thought of getting back into a routine after a carefree summer might bring a little bit of the blues, fear not! With a little planning and creativity, you can transition smoothly from fun-filled summer days to the structure that seems to be demanded from us as the school year begins (which seems to happen whether you have kids going back to school or not).

In this blog, we'll share some playful and actionable tips to help you make the most of the final days of summer while preparing for the fall season ahead.

1. Get Outside and Soak Up the Sun

One of the biggest perks of summer is the endless sunshine and warm weather. As the days get shorter and cooler, it's essential to soak up the last bits of summer sun while you can. Here's some of our favourites:

  • Plan outdoor adventures: Whether it's a family hike around Westwood Lake, a day at Departure Bay Beach, or a picnic in Maffeo Sutton Park, make the most of your weekends by getting outdoors and enjoying nature. The fresh air and Vitamin D will do wonders for your mood!
  • Evening strolls: Take advantage of the longer evenings by going for a post-dinner walk or bike ride. It's an excellent way to unwind and spend quality time with your loved ones. Plus there’s something so comfortably nostalgic about exploring your neighbourhood after dinner.
  • Outdoor movie nights: Turn your backyard into a cozy outdoor movie theatre. All you need is a projector, a white sheet or screen, some comfy blankets, and a selection of your favourite summer films.
  • Play in the garden: If you have a garden or space to start one, involve the family in some late-summer gardening. Harvesting your own fruits and vegetables can be both fun and rewarding.

2. Summer-Inspired Meal Prepping

Transitioning from relaxed summer meals to packed school lunches and weeknight dinners can be challenging and sometimes daunting. However, you can keep the summer vibes alive by incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients into your meal prep:

Farmers market trips: Visit your local farmers market to stock up on seasonal fruits and veggies. Not only will you support local farmers, but you'll also get the freshest produce available.

Grill it up: Continue to embrace the barbecue season by grilling your meals. Try grilling vegetables, chicken, fish, and even fruit for a unique and delicious twist.

Salad creativity: Create vibrant and refreshing salads with the summer produce you've picked up. Think watermelon and feta salad or a colourful caprese salad with ripe tomatoes and basil.

Popsicle party: Make your own popsicles with fresh fruit juices or yogurt for a healthy and nostalgic summer treat. This is always a crowd-pleaser, no matter the age.

3. Incorporate Favourite Summer Activities

Who says you can't enjoy your favourite summer activities just because the school year is starting? Keep the spirit of summer alive by planning special moments with your loved ones:

Ice cream night: Designate one night a week as "ice cream night." Create a DIY ice cream bar with various toppings and let everyone make their sundaes or make a special trip to your favourite ice cream shop. It's a simple and delicious tradition that everyone can look forward to.

Beach time: We’re lucky enough to live near the coast, so take advantage of it during the weekends! Even a short day trip to the beach can rejuvenate your spirit.

Camping at home: If your family enjoys camping, but you can't get away for a full weekend, consider a "camping" night in your backyard. Set up a tent, roast marshmallows over a fire pit and stargaze.

Festival vibes: Look for local festivals and events happening in your area. The themes may shift to be more autumnal but the energy of festivals and community events can provide a taste of that carefree summer spirit. Some that we’re looking forward to are The Nanaimo Jazz Festival, Meet Me At The Meadows and Culture Days.

4. Shop at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets aren't just for meal prep; they're also a fantastic way to experience the essence of summer. Here's how to make the most of your visits:

Explore local products: Beyond fruits and vegetables, farmers markets often feature local artisans and their unique products. From handmade soaps to artisanal cheeses, you can find treasures you won't discover anywhere else.

Family outing: Turn your farmers market trip into a family outing. Let the kids choose a new fruit or vegetable to try, and involve them in the meal planning and preparation.

Support the community: Shopping at farmers markets not only provides you with fresh, high-quality goods but also supports local farmers and small businesses. It's a win-win situation. Check out these local markets.

Try something new: Challenge yourself to try a new ingredient or recipe based on what you find at the farmers market. It's an excellent way to expand your culinary horizons.

5. Balance Your Calendar and Plan Ahead

Balancing the demands of school, work and family life can be tricky, but with a little organization and foresight, you can make it work:

Family calendar: Use a shared family calendar, whether digital or on paper, to keep track of everyone's schedules. Colour coding can help differentiate activities and appointments so you can visually balance everyone’s activities.

Set priorities: Determine your family's top priorities for the school year. Whether it's academic achievements, extracurricular activities or quality family time, make sure your calendar reflects these values.

Plan vacations and outings: A major reason everyone looks forward to summer–adventures and holiday plans we spend all year looking forward to. So why not treat yourself throughout the rest of the year? Schedule regular breaks and outings throughout the school year to give everyone something to look forward to. Even a weekend getaway or a day exploring a neighbouring town can provide a much-needed break.

Delegate tasks: Share household responsibilities with your family members to lighten the load. Assign age-appropriate chores to your children to teach them responsibility and teamwork.

6. Plan Things to Look Forward To

One of the best ways to beat the back-to-school blues is to have exciting plans on the horizon. Here are some ideas:

Weekend getaways: Plan weekend trips to nearby destinations. Whether it's a cozy cabin on Hornby Island or a charming bed-and-breakfast in Nanaimo, these mini-vacations can provide a refreshing change of scenery.

Themed parties: Host themed parties or gatherings throughout the school year. It could be a tropical luau in the middle of winter or a cozy bonfire in autumn. Keep the energy silly and fun, especially as the weather takes a turn for the gloomy.

Celebrations and milestones: Mark special occasions and milestones with enthusiasm. Whether it's a birthday, an anniversary or a school achievement, make it a point to celebrate as a family or group.Seasonal traditions: Create traditions for each season. For example, a fall tradition could be picking your pumpkin from our annual North Nanaimo Pumpkin Patch or visiting McNabb’s Corn Maze, while winter could include a holiday baking day or Winter Wonderland Skating at Beban Park.

Remember, transitioning from summer to the school year doesn't mean the fun has to stop. With a little creativity and planning, you can make the most of the remaining summer days and look forward to a successful and enjoyable school year. So, embrace the back-to-school season with open arms and let the memories of summer keep you warm throughout the year ahead.

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