Back-to-School Routines Key For Kids and Parents

Back to school season is a very important time to start a routine with your children. Part of that is making sure you are incorporating healthier habits for you and your children.

In general, it’s a good idea to think about establishing better nutrition, exercise, getting enough sleep and a structured routine. I know this may seem like common sense, but think about it: Are you actively trying to work on these things with your children?

Eating Right

When it comes to good nutrition for your kids, leading by example is key.

  • Breakfast is mandatory. It is the most important meal of the day. It will give your child more energy and allow them to be more productive, focused and better able to learn and absorb information at school. Think about how much time your child has in the morning. Do they have time to have a sit-down breakfast, like oatmeal, a high fiber cereal or a veggie omelet? Or will it have to be a grab-and-go breakfast that could include yogurt, a piece of fruit or a high fiber cereal bar?
  • Lunch time is the next opportunity to get proper nutrition into the body. Packing a lunch allows you to budget and have better control of what your child is eating.
  • Don’t forget about fruits and vegetables, too. The goal is at least five servings per day. Remember a serving is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked. Snack time is a great time to get in a variety of colorful produce, like an apple with peanut butter with cinnamon mixed in or red ants on a log, which is dried cranberries and peanut butter on celery. Or try dipping your favorite veggies in hummus.
  • Stay hydrated. The best beverage is water. Remember that 70 percent of your body is water and keeping your system replenished is key to proper body function. You want to limit sugary drinks for children; the goal is none daily. This includes soda pop, fruit punch-type drinks like Kool Aid, lemonade, Sunny D and other sugar-based drinks. Even be careful of 100-percent fruit juice; even though it contains natural sugar from fruit, it’s better to drink water and eat fruit. By doing so, you will be getting fiber, and the vitamins and minerals are absorbed more efficiently from the fruit or vegetable itself.
  • Keep portions under control. Remember that even though they’re growing, kids should have child-size portions. If you can, teach them the difference between hunger and satiety — being full and satisfied. This will be a great life-long lesson that can help them avoid obesity now and long term.

Here is an article from Epicurious, 5 Mistakes that Parents Make When Feeding Their Kids. Do you make any of these errors?

Squeezing in Exercise

A blog post from the Beaumont Parenting Program from Beaumont Children’s Hospital stresses the importance for parents to “Exercise Your Influence” when it comes to incorporating exercise and physical activity in your kid’s lives. Here are a few things to remember to help guide your child into more activity:

  • Children should be active for at least one hour per day.
  • You should limit children’s screen time to no more than two hours per day. Screen time includes watching TV, sitting in front of the computer, playing sedentary video games and even texting or playing on smart phones.
  • Try a variety of activities with your kids, from organized team sports, to simple things like riding bikes, playing tag or just having fun outside.
  • Family fun activities are great for everyone. Make it a tradition, like an after dinner walk or a family bike ride every Sunday.

Sleep and Routine

Do you get enough sleep? Most Americans do not sleep and rest enough. This becomes especially important for children. Children should be sleeping at least eight hours every night for better health.

Sleep is important for a child’s growth and energy levels, which in turn impacts their ability to perform at school and their mood. Setting a sleep time and also figuring out a bedtime routine is another process that you should teach your children. This will help your kids go to sleep in a more timely fashion.

Speaking of routine, having a daily routine with your kids and family is a great way to create structure. The goal is to have your family routine include many healthy habits, so they become second nature to you and the ones you love.

Many times you know what you should do to live healthier, but the doing it part is more difficult. Moreover, trying to teach your children gets tricky if you are not able to do it yourself. What are some of your back-to-school tricks to keep your family healthier?

Photo Credit: Seabamirum via Flickr

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