How to keep your kids healthy as they go back to school?
Back-to-school time is typically hectic and fast-moving. Before you know it, your kids are getting ready for their first day. No matter what situation you’re in, it’s never too late to focus on keeping your kids healthy as they start a new school year.
During the summer, it’s easier to monitor your kids’ choices. You can prepare nutritious foods, make sure they get enough sleep, and encourage physical activity — especially by spending time outside. However, once they go back to school, there are more opportunities for them to make unhealthy choices. Additionally, they’ll be more exposed to germs by being around other kids and touching more surfaces.
While you don’t have to fret over your child getting sick or becoming unhealthy as the school year starts, there are some things you can do to be proactive about their well-being. Let’s cover some tips you can use to keep your kids healthy as they go back to school this fall.
Establish a healthy sleep schedule
If your kids still have some time before heading back to school, it’s a good idea to get them on a proper sleep routine now so they’ll have a chance to get used to it. School-age children need to sleep 9 to 11 hours each night, and that might mean an earlier bedtime than they had in the summer.
You can help your kids get enough back-to-school sleep by making their bedtime relaxed and comfortable. Have a wind-down routine that works for both of you. It could include things like:
- Taking a warm shower or bath;
- Reading a story;
- Listening to soft music;
- Talking for a few minutes about their day.
Try to avoid letting your child eat or drink anything before bed, and take away electronic devices at least an hour before they’re supposed to go to sleep. Make sure their room is as decluttered as possible to create an ideal sleep environment. These simple tips will go a long way in ensuring they fall asleep quickly and are able to rest peacefully through the night.
Fuel them the right way
It might have been easy to monitor what your child was eating and drinking during the summer, but you’ll have less control over that when they’re in school. Classroom treats, sharing things with friends, and vending machines can make it harder for them to make healthy choices. While an occasional treat or “unhealthy food” isn’t going to hurt anything, it’s important to make sure your kids are still getting the nutrition they need.
You can start by making a healthy breakfast each day. Even if you don’t have time for a leisurely meal in the morning, consider taking one day a week to prep those meals. Grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches, whole wheat toaster waffles, and fresh fruit smoothies are all great options that will give your child the nutrients they need and provide them with long-lasting energy to keep them focused in class.
You can also make sure they’re eating healthy by packing their lunch every day. Coming up with creative and healthy school lunch ideas that are also tasty isn’t always easy, but it’s best to keep things simple. Try some of the following options that your kid is sure to love:
- Cracker pizza with fresh veggies and ranch;
- Hummus and a veggie wrap;
- Hard-boiled eggs, crackers, and dried fruit;
- Peanut butter and banana roll-ups.
Be sure to pack a water bottle in their backpacks each day to help them stay hydrated. If you know your child has a hard time getting enough water, consider using flavor enhancers to encourage them to drink more. Too much sugar can be bad for their concentration in school, so make sure to monitor the amount going into their packed lunches and drinks.
You know your child’s taste better than anyone, so don’t be afraid to get creative with the things they love and they’ll be less likely to make trades at lunch.
Teach them healthy habits
One of the best ways to keep your kids healthy this year is by teaching them what they can do to protect themselves while they’re at school. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it was the importance of keeping hands as clean as possible.
Many schools still have sanitization protocols in place and are constantly cleaning and wiping down surfaces, but it might not be enough. Make sure your child knows the importance of washing their hands frequently, especially before they eat.
Additionally, talk to them about sharing things with friends. While sharing school supplies, toys, and books is okay, personal items should never be swapped. That includes back-to-school clothes and accessories, hygiene products, or combs and hair brushes. Parents should be aware that head lice can be a huge problem in schools, especially with younger students. They spread quickly and can cause itching or even wounds to the head. You can reduce your child’s risk of catching them by making sure they aren’t sharing hats or brushes with friends or classmates.
You might not be able to completely protect your kids from health risks or monitor every choice they make this year when you’re not around. However, by giving them what they need to stay healthy and educating them on the impact of those choices, you’re taking the right steps to prioritize their well-being. That will help to keep them focused, happy, and feeling good throughout the entire school year.