It’s that time of year again – back to school season! While this is an exciting time of year for kids, it can also be very stressful as families get back into the busy routine of school schedules, meal planning, after-school activities, and more. To help you out, we are sharing a list of some of our go-to ways to kick off the year on a healthy note.
Get Back on a Schedule: This can be one of the hardest things to do for kids and families, especially if you have had a more relaxed summer schedule. Get back into the routine by having your kids go to bed earlier and wake up closer to the time they do when school starts. When the first day approaches, they will be prepared for the schedule and the early mornings will seem like less of a shock.
Make a Plan Meal Plan Together: Back to school also means back to structured meals. Get your kids involved in planning meals together. This can empower them to make decisions about what they like to eat as well as serve as a teachable lesson for you as you guide them to pick healthy options and to prioritize fiber-rich and protein-rich foods. For teens and older kids, this can also be a way for them to start to make their own food with simple recipes like hummus, smoothies, and soups.
Limit Processed Foods and Sugary Foods: By now you know that processed foods are causing havoc to our kids’ health. Stay away from packaged and processed foods that often have more than the recommended amount of salt, sugar, and fat as well as unneeded food dyes, excessive calories, and lack of essential nutrients. Have a picky eater at home? Be the role model and encourage them to try one new food per week. Get creative by having them try new foods and always encourage them to cook
Visit the Doctor: Before the start of the school year, make sure all of your child’s well visits are in order. You might also want to organize visits with their dentist and any other specialists they see.
Plan Family Exercises: Similarly to how you are planning your family meals, make it a point to plan family fitness. Consider putting this on the calendar where you add family walks, hikes, runs, or sports/games that you all love.
Prioritize Self-Care: Taking care of yourself is not just for adults. Our kids are busy and often have a full plate of things to do at the start of the school year. Make sure that they have ample time to rest as well as enough downtime in between school and after-school activities.
Get Enough Sleep: It is critical that kids (and adults) get a sufficient amount of sleep every night. Sleep can help to reduce stress, help kids think clearly, improves attention, cognition, and memory, lowers the risk of certain diseases, and simply can make them feel better and more productive during the day. As a general rule, toddlers should get 11-14 hours; kids aged three to five should get 10-13 hours; kids aged 6-12 should get 9-12; and teens should get 8-10 hours.
Limit Screens: Since many kids are on screens for school, it’s important that they aren’t on them all the time and overuse them. Screentime can affect sleep as it disrupts the melatonin surge needed to fall asleep. Make sure they stop using electronics at least two hours before the go to bed, and keep electronics out of the bedroom