When our family observed Back Pack Free Friday on May 3, I had some practical parenting logistics to work out.
The Practical Parenting Concerns behind Back Pack Free Friday
If you haven’t heard of Backpack Free Friday, it is an international campaign organized by Parenting 2.0, an international consciousness movement “Where every adult is recognized as ‘raising humanity’ and children’s Life Skills Averages are as valued as their Grade Point Averages.” Parenting 2.0 on LinkedIn is the top ranked parenting group gathering more than 2900 members in over sixty countries.
Parenting 2.0 calls attention to practical parenting concerns like learning and social skills, stating that “Students do not learn or socialize well with others when they are tired, dehydrated and hungry – add to this a pack of heavy books on their backs. Back Pack Free Friday draws awareness to the importance of children’s foundational care in their daily lives.”
Practical Parenting and Personal Care
The life skill of personal care is a practical parenting issue. It is essential for us and our kids to learn to care for ourselves and know when we are in need of rest or support. Most of the time, we tough it out and push through, and teach our kids to do the same. Sometimes it can lead to long term pain and suffering.
My son is in third grade and at times, his back pack can feel heavy with library books and folders and water in it. When I mentioned Back Pack Free Friday to the coaches in his after-school program, one coach told the story of how his school didn’t have lockers so he had to carry all his books around. His back ached because back pack was so heavy. He said he complained to his mom, and she told him he had to keep carrying his books because there was nothing she could do. Talk about feeling powerless to relieve your child’s burdens!
This doesn’t only apply to kids. As an adult, my husband carried a messenger-type bag which he wore cross-body or on one shoulder as he commuted from home by train to the office and back. He started experiencing back pain, and his doctor advised him to switch to a rolling back pack. The pain went away. While that was a few years ago, just last week he had low blood pressure from dehydration.
For more on Back Pack Free Friday, you can listen to my interview with Wendy McDonnell on Family Matters Radio.
Practical Parenting Outcome of Back Pack Free Friday
When my son left for school without his back pack, he said he felt relaxed. I was grateful for that because brain-wise, kids learn better when they are relaxed versus when they are stressed, tired, hungry, and deydrated.
When he came home, I was very surprised that he had a fever. My first thoughts were, “Was he dehydrated? Did I manifest this?” Because he had diarrhea, and not constipation which is a symptom of dehydration, I realized that the fever was from some sort of bug. I gave him some fluids and sent him to rest.
He also came home without his homework folder, since he didn’t want anyone to take it. He had asked a classmate to put it into his back pack for safe-keeping.
I realize back packs are useful for our kids to have. Here are some practical parenting reminders about back packs:
• Back packs are to weigh no more than 10% of your child’s body weight
• Wear back packs on both shoulders
• Be sure back packs are the right size for your child
• Adjust the straps so that the back pack fits properly and does not hang more than 4 inches below the waist
• Take care when lifting and lowering the back pack
• Distribute the contents of the back pack evenly, putting the heavier items closer to the body
• Pay attention if your child complains about a heavy back pack
• Notice if there are any red marks caused by the straps
• Check back packs daily to see what can be taken out
My son went back to school with a lighter back pack on Monday, and I benefited from a greater awareness of how to support my child in his daily life.
For more information on practical parenting and how to be more present to your child’s needs, please fill in your name and email at the upper right side of this page so we can stay in touch. I wish you all the best in your growth as a parent and as a person.