The start of the school year is exciting, hectic, stressful, fun, and full of changes. Moms see this time of year as a second chance for New Year’s resolutions. Kids often move from lazy, unstructured summer days to jam-packed weeks of schoolwork and structured activities. Families have to adjust to changes in schedules and routines.
Just getting everyone to the right place at the right time can be a challenge! How do you fit back-to-school wellness into the mix?
Eating healthy food can be a challenge at home, but most kids get at least half their day’s calories at school. Parents for Healthy Schools has ideas for how to advocate for healthy meals at your child’s school.
Still, eating habits are learned at home. Fill half the plate with produce when you serve up meals at home, limit processed foods, and try to eat fresh food at home. It’s not always easy, but modeling good eating habits helps kids eat well.
Healthy eating is a struggle for many families, but it can help kids lay a strong foundation for lifelong health. Sure, you want your kids to eat their veggies so they’ll grow up big and strong, but good eating habits can also reduce the chances of developing chronic diseases in the future.
Kids spend a lot of time sitting at school. Then they come home, sit down to do homework, and relax by watching TV or playing video games. That’s a lot of sitting!
Make the effort to build movement into your family time. Try taking a family walk or bike ride after dinner, playing outside for an hour in the evening, or cranking up some tunes for a family dance party.
Your chances of following through increase if you write those active times on a calendar that everyone can see.
Even doing chores can be good exercise. Get into the habit of cleaning the kitchen together after dinner, working in the garden on the weekends, or doing a whole-house pick up time before bed. Attaching the activity to a time or another regular event is another trick to encourage follow-through.
A full 60 minutes of movement is recommended for kids each day. Make it easy to get that much activity.
School can be stressful. A new teacher, new classmates, and a new routine can be stressful for any kid. Add shyness, bullying, or academic challenges to the mix, and the result can be unhealthy levels of stress.
Just listening can help. Encourage kids to talk about what’s going on, help them find words to describe how they feel, and resist the temptation to jump in with solutions.
Appoint some time for settling down. Exercise helps everyone cope with stress, but quiet reading time can help dissipate the stress of the day. Modeling healthy ways of responding to stress, like deep breathing or stretching, can help kids gain skills for coping with the unavoidable stress of modern life.
Back-to-school is a great time to make a few changes in your family’s routine that will lead to better health for everyone. Your pediatrician is your partner in your kids’ health. Make an appointment to get assistance starting new healthy habits.