Summer is quickly coming to a close, with a new school year just around the corner. Once the kids are back in school, time seems to fly by even faster. Between practices, homework and extracurricular activities, it seems hard to even find time to breathe. And when time gets tight, your health is often the first thing neglected. But it is important for both you and your children to keep a good diet, get enough sleep and stay organized throughout the year. Read on for tips to keep your family’s mental and physical health in check this upcoming school session!
Keep a good diet
When your family gets busy, it becomes much easier to run through a fast food restaurant or grab a bag of chips instead of making a healthier meal or snack. Eating healthy while on the go is possible; it just requires a little more planning.
Your kids will snack on what you make available to them, so opt for healthier options like granola bars, nuts, string cheese and yogurt. Buy lots of fruits and vegetables that your family enjoys, then wash and package them into snack bags as soon as you get home so they are ready when you need them. Pair with to-go packages of ranch dressing or peanut butter for an extra punch of flavor.
Healthy meals require the same kind of planning. Every weekend, sit down and decide what your family will have for dinner in the upcoming week based on your nightly schedule. Purchase your groceries based on that meal plan and do as much prepping as you can when you get home from the store. Slow cooker meals are a great option because they can be set in the morning and ready when you get home from work.
Get enough sleep
The key to “catching Zs” is training your brain to expect sleep at certain times—and then listening when your brain tells you to sleep. In order to make the most of your time asleep, it is important to keep a good sleep schedule. Your body cannot function well by “stocking up” on sleep on the weekends and barely sleeping during the week; it is better to aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep each and every night. Encourage your kids to create a bedtime routine (like washing their face and reading a book) and do it every night before bed. This will signal to their brains that it is time for sleep, making it easier for them to fall asleep quickly.
Once your body settles into a sleep schedule, it is important to stick with it. On the weekends, try to wake your children within 2 and 4 hours of their weekday wake up time. This will keep their body clock in check. During the week, make sure your children manage their time well during the day so they can go to sleep around the same time each night. Set a time every evening for your kids to do their homework so they are not tempted to procrastinate and do it in the middle of the night.
The school year comes with many responsibilities and activities that can become overwhelming if you don’t stay organized. Depending on your personal preferences, either purchase a paper planner or download a planner app on your phone to keep track of family events and children’s activities. Encourage your children to keep their school planner updated with homework, projects and tests so they don’t fall behind in their classes.
When purchasing school supplies for your kids, buy each of them one binder for every class, preferably each a different color. Have them keep their notes and assignments for each class separated in the different binders so they will be less likely to misplace items. Each quarter or semester, help your kids clean out their binders and recycle any papers they no longer need.
Chances are, each of your kids are involved in at least one extra curricular activity or sport, all requiring different equipment. Set aside one bag for each activity and have your child keep all of his or her equipment for each activity in the assigned bag. If everything stays in the bag, it is easy to grab as they’re walking out the door and reduces the chance of them forgetting a shoe or shin guard.
If you notice that your child is having an extremely difficult time eating healthy, getting sleep or staying organized, contact your family physician, as it may be a sign of a more serious disorder or illness. If you have questions about keeping your children healthy during the school year, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311.