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Back to School: Healthy Habits for Children

The kids have their backpacks; check. Pencils, crayons, calculator, notepads, and paper; check, check. Whether this is their first day of kindergarten or their senior year of high school it never gets any easier. Preparing kids for school can be a daunting task, but now that they are back in the classroom, keeping a structured routine and forming healthy habits is just as challenging. However, maintaining a healthy routine can help kids learn better, behave better in class, and build better relationships with you and their classmates.

So what are some good habits to keep up during the school year? Here are a few of our favorites…

Good Nutrition

Let’s be honest, who wants to cook after a long day of work or after battling homework and running the kids to all their activities? It’s so much easier to plop a frozen pizza in the oven or whip up a batch of macaroni and cheese.  But, unfortunately your kids’ eating habits, especially if they have academic struggles in school, could mean the difference in how they learn and what they learn in the classroom. Exercise instructors have harped on us for years to get to the gym and to eat healthy. However, it isn’t just for the benefit of adults, it’s for kids as well. Eating healthy food helps kids stay focused and attend better in the classroom while keeping their tummies full for longer periods of time. Instead of serving that sugary breakfast cereal every morning, which could create more attention issues, try an omelet instead. It’s a great source of protein for your child and gives them a good meal before school.  If you are pressed for time, lay out the items before going to bed. It takes us 5 minutes to whip up an egg scramble and it’s delici

Family Meal Time

Family meal time is a great opportunity for parents and children to reconnect. It gives children the chance to talk about what they are doing in school and how they enjoy interacting with their peers. More importantly, kids can use this time to build their vocabulary and communication skills. When so much time is spent with TV and video games, communicating almost seems like a lost art, but a very important social skill. Meal time provides a comfortable and open setting for kids to express their feelings, tell stories, laugh, and talk about their problems. Recent studies show that family meals lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, and leads to higher self-esteem and grade-point averages.

Back-to-School Safety

As much as we would all love to go back to the days of Mayberry, our neighborhoods and communities aren’t as safe as they used to be. Teaching kids while they are young the importance of stranger danger and what to do in cases of an emergency helps them stay calm and act appropriately if they find themselves in a sticky situation. In today’s world, school safety not only includes talking to your kids about strangers, but how they should handle situations on their way to school, on the playground, and with their school friends. Since a majority of kids still walk or ride their bikes to school, children must know the rules of the road, to watch for cars and buses, walk in groups, wear helmets, keep arms and legs inside while riding the bus, and to stay alert at all times. While on the playground, teach your children to play where there is a soft surface to land on in case they fall, to wait their turn on the slide to avoid crashing into another child, climb carefully, and to stay away from sharp objects or unstable equipment. Another angle kids now have to be prepared for is school bullying. Find more school safety tips from the National Safety Council.

Regular Bedtime Schedules

As a parent, we all know this is one of the toughest jobs of the day. Bedtime can be an entire exercise on its own. However, keeping a steady routine provides structure and gives your child the right amount of sleep they need to stay focused and awake so they can learn in school.  Between meals, homework, lessons, sports, and playtime, it can be challenging to keep a set bedtime, but studies show kids who maintain a regular bedtime routine have better behavior and are less likely to act out. To get your child into a scheduled bedtime, try lowering the lights 30 minutes before they are ready to sleep. When light starts to fade, the brain hormone melatonin starts to rise, causing drowsiness. Remember, it’s all about team work. If you have someone that can help you get the kids to bed, take advantage of it so you aren’t doing it alone.

Healthy Habits for Parent Anxiety

Last but not least, and certainly one of the most important habits to form, is to take time for you during the school year. With all the hustle and bustle of the school year, getting kids into a routine, and ensuring their safety, it’s critical to take care of your health so you can in turn take care of your child. We all want what is best for our children, but there is so much pressure to be the “perfect parent” that it’s easy to have parent anxiety and with that comes a lot of stress. However, there is no perfect parent out there so taking time for yourself may be one of the key ingredients for happy parents and happy kids. Eating well, exercising, and getting a full night sleep will refresh and re-energize your efforts as a parent. To help with anxiety, talk to your partner more and call parents and friends to compare notes. You will be surprised to learn that many people are going through the same things as you are and you are not alone. They can help you cope with challenges and issues that may arise with your children and can share experience and stories of what they did with their children. For more peace of mind, talk with your pediatrician. They can give information, recommendations, and professional advice for your child care.