Pack It Light, Wear It Right
With the Canadian National Exhibition gates officially opening this Friday, and all the back-to-school sales seemingly everywhere, summer is slowly drawing to a close. For many of us, that means it's almost time to pack the backpacks, make some lunches, and send the kids back to school.
Your child's backpack is a vital piece of their daily wardrobe. Not only does it serve to carry everything they need for a full day at school, but it's also an important fashion accessory. Here are some tips on how to properly select and pack your child's backpack, and how they should properly wear it.
✓ Choose Wisely - Not all backpacks are created equal, and certain backpacks are better for some requirements than others. Your 6 year old starting first grade does not need a hulking, multi-strap, 20 zipper monstrosity better suited for a teenager in high school. Materials matter - choose something like like vinyl or canvas, which will help save valuable weight (more on this later). Make sure the backpack has two hearty, padded, adjustable shoulder straps. A waist belt would be useful too, as it helps disperse the weight evenly.
✓ Pack It Light - Textbooks? Yes. Laptop? Of course. Lunch? Obviously. Pencil case? Why not. Baseball glove? Absolutely. All these items add weight...and in the case of children (especially younger children), it can quickly become too much. Studies have shown that you shouldn't carry more than the equivalent of 10-15% of your body weight in your backpack (check out this study).
So, for your 50 lbs. kiddo, you're working with 5-7.5 lbs. (remember how I said choosing a light backpack is important?). Not only does weight matter, but so does distribution. Pack heavier items at the bottom, and along the surface that rests along your child's back. This makes carrying the weight easier and safer.
✓ Wear It Right - After spending all that time choosing the perfect backpack, and packing it properly, if your child slings it over one shoulder and bolts out the front door, all your effort will have been...wasted. The backpack needs to be properly fitted and worn correctly! Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly, but so that you can still place your hand between the backpack and your child's back.
You don't want the backpack to be low slung, or so high that its rubbing the back of their neck. Above all, it must be comfortable. If there is a waist belt, adjust it so that it's snug, but not too tight. Wearing the backpack using both shoulder straps is crucial. Slinging it over one shoulder can lead to neck, shoulder and low back pain, and is something that should be avoided.
The first day of school is three weeks away, so be sure to get outside and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!