Back to School Basics: How to Set Your Family Up for A Healthy School Year

Young girl getting on a school bus

For many families, summer passes in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, it is time to pick the first day outfit, pack the backpack, and send your child off to school. This can be a hectic season of adjusting to new schedules, incorporating new activities into your weekly routine, and adding new stressors to your family’s lives. Overall, however, your family’s health is critical in staying active at work and school. Here are some tips for starting the school year off right:

1. Prepare Healthy Lunches and Meals

You may not be able to prepare each meal for your family every day, but here are some guidelines for healthy eating at any time of day:

  • Breakfast: Fueling your family with a breakfast high in protein will keep them full for longer and give them more energy for the day ahead.
  • Lunch: If you pack lunch for yourself or your family, keep the options balanced. Packing a sandwich with a protein inside (like meat or a nut butter) is a great place to start. Pair it with a side like a fruit or a veggie.
  • Snacks: Snacks can be an important part of a balanced day of eating. However, it is important to monitor your family’s snacks to make sure they are not completely filling up between meals. Having quick and nutritious snacks on hand can stop your family from reaching for a bag of chips or candy. Homemade trail mix, no-bake protein bites, frozen fruits, and smoothies are all great options when it comes to healthy snacking.
  • Dinner: It is important to integrate all food groups into your family’s meals. When preparing dinner, make sure you serve two to three food groups, like carbohydrates, protein, and fruits or veggies. 

2. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule

Missing out on the recommend amount of sleep long term puts you at a higher risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In the short term, less sleep means you will have trouble focusing throughout the day, feel fatigued, and be in a worse mood. While adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night, children need a varying amount depending on their age. In a 24-hour period, preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep, older children need 9-12 hours, and teenagers need 8-10 hours.

If you and your family are not getting your recommended amount of sleep, try to build habits around preparing yourself for a better night’s sleep:

  • Set a bed time…and stick to it! Being consistent with the time you go to bed ensures you will always have enough time to get the recommended amount of sleep.
  • Remove electronics from bedrooms. Electronics make it easy to feel like we have “gone to bed”, when in reality, we are still wide awake. Make an effort to remove the distractions of TVs, video games, computers, and cell phones from your family’s bedrooms so everyone can rest, distraction-free.
  • Keep bedrooms at a comfortable temperature, dark, and quiet. Easily-distracted sleepers, like young children, can find it difficult to fall asleep for many reasons. Try to make falling asleep as easy as possible for them by removing some environmental factors they may find distracting.
  • Get enough physical activity during the day. If you and your family are staying active during the day it will be easier to fall and stay asleep at night.

3. Exercise as a Family

Being active for 30 minutes to an hour a day will help keep your family fit and protects you from health risks later on in life. Do not assume recess and gym class are enough for your child; set aside time during the week for the entire family to get active together. If you do not protect this time by writing it on the calendar and treating it like a scheduled event, it can quickly disappear. It may be difficult to find time so simplify your schedule in small steps. It is not an easy change to make overnight, but you will slowly be able to find more time to stay healthy as a family.

4. Stay Up to Date with Physician’s Appointments and Vaccinations

Preventative care for your family is important. It can help pinpoint potential future issues and safeguard against them now. The members of your family should see a primary care physician, dentist, and eye doctor regularly to ensure all facets of their physical health are being cared for. Your family’s primary care physician can also recommend and administer any vaccinations you and your children may be due for.

5. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

As a parent, you are one of your child’s biggest and most valuable resources for helping them solve problems and handle issues. Mental health is just as important as physical health, so make an effort to be open and honest with your family and connect them to resources they may need.

Talk to your family about healthy habits for both physical and mental health. Do not be afraid to dig in deep and ask your kids about how they process information, make decisions, and solve problems. Talking about challenging things can bring you closer as a family.

If you are ready to start the school year off right, set up your annual appointment at Capital Women’s Care to get on track for the upcoming year.

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The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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