It’s time to trade in your swimming suits for school supplies - back to school season is upon us! While many parents and caregivers are ready to get back into a routine again, actually doing so can take some time. The tips below can help you make healthy choices for your kids as you start the summer to classroom transition.
Begin with a Good Breakfast
You know the common saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Well, for kids it really is! Skipping breakfast can make kids tired, restless or irritable and cause their mood and energy to drop by mid-morning, which can lead to poor focus and sabotage them the rest of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast also kick starts their metabolism, helps them consume less calories throughout the day, and boost brain power.
What kids eat for breakfast is also important. It’s best to avoid sugary cereals or grab-and-go breakfast pastries and instead choose foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber and protein such as: whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, whole-grain waffle topped with peanut butter, bran muffin with berries, or a whole wheat pita stuffed with eggs.
Pack a Healthy Lunch
Whether you have a picky eater who wants the same lunch every day or an adventurous eater who gets bored with the same ‘ole thing, a healthy packed lunch should be balanced with lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruits or vegetables. Try to avoid heavily processed meats and other packaged foods and instead try whole grain products, natural lunch meat, low-sugar yogurts, nuts and seeds, and one fruit or veggie your kiddo will eat! And don’t forget a water bottle so they stay hydrated too.
Create a snack station
After kids get home from school, during homework time, and probably when you’re trying to get dinner made, you’ll inevitably hear the phrase “I’m hungry!” Determine a spot in the pantry and in the refrigerator and arm them with healthy snacks that your kids can go grab themselves. Some ideas include: carrot and celery sticks with hummus, berries dipped in low-fat yogurt, almonds, raisins, no-salt low-fat cheese and pretzels. Feeling ambitious? Check out these creative snack ideas.
Go to Bed Earlier
Sleep is important for both kids and adults, not only to allow our bodies to get the rest it needs, but also our brains. While we sleep, scientists think our brain sorts through and stores information, solves problems, replaces chemicals, and gets rid of information we don’t need. Although sleep is a very individual thing, most kids between the ages of 5 and 12 need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, but most get about 9.5. If kids aren’t getting enough rest they may have difficulty following directions, feel tired and cranky throughout the day, and have a hard time thinking clearly.
To help kids get enough sleep, try following a bedtime routine such as taking a bath, reading a book, going to bed at the same time every night, limiting any caffeine intake, and avoiding screen time too close to bedtime.
Make a Go-Bag
Going from lazy summer afternoons to busy after school activities can be stressful and exhausting. Try streamlining the process by making a go-bag for the next day’s activities and having it ready by the door to grab when you leave the house. For example, dance clothes for ballet class, sports uniform for baseball practice, healthy grab-and-go snacks, water bottles, a simple first-aid kit, sunscreen, and homework supplies for any downtime in-between.
Practice flu prevention
Going back to school means kids will be exposed to more germs. Eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and getting enough sleep are your best immunity boosters for flu prevention! Also encourage your kids to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and get plenty of Vitamin C. As soon as they're available, consider getting your child a flu shot at Orchard Hospital’s Medical Specialty Center – Your Everyday Health Care Clinic.
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