Keeping your kids healthy is a challenge in today’s world. Maintaining strong connectivity between home routines and school routines can be a tough standard to keep up day in and day out. But keeping your kids healthy both at home and at school doesn’t have to be a struggle! Here are a few simple tips that can help you build a healthier life for your kids both in your home and while they’re away at school for the day.
Pack Healthy Lunches
The CDC states that the percentage of obese children ages 6 to 11 has more than doubled from 7% in the year 1980 to %18 in the year 2010. It comes as no surprise that diet is perhaps the most evident culprit in the rise in obesity in children. Thankfully, you have a large amount of control over your children’s diet. Whether you think your child’s diet is problematic or not, there are always steps you can take to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need to live a healthy life.
Keeping your kids healthy is largely dependent on the types of food habits that you encourage both in the home and outside. If you’re the kind of parent who packs their children’s lunches every day, you have a major advantage in terms of healthiness. In fact, there is no shortage of healthy options at your disposable when it comes to improving the nutrient profile of your child’s lunches.
When you make sandwiches, add a few microgreens to them for extra crunch and a serving of veggies. A lot of times, your child won’t even notice the taste of a few greens. Spring mix is a great starting point if your child has an aversion to vegetables. Spinach and arugula are a little less appealing when it comes to flavor, but there are many different kinds of greens you can try to find one that your child enjoys. Instead of macaroni salad, see how your kids feel about homemade vegetable soup for lunch. Do you find that you’re packing lots of sweet treats and sugary baked goods for desserts? Try including some fresh fruit instead. Fruits such as berries, dates, and watermelon offer a sweet, refreshing taste without taking the nutritional toll that treats with lots of processed sugars do. Keeping your kids healthy begins by encouraging them to eat right.
Inquire About School Snack Options
Sometimes a packed lunch just isn’t enough food for your kids. School days can be long and snacks are a necessary part of keeping energy levels high throughout the afternoon class sessions. Snacks are important, and most times schools can provide them. But you don’t always know what comes out of the cafeteria equipment every day. Ask your kids’ teachers about classroom snacks. This is an especially good idea for your kids in elementary schools who may be confined to one or two classrooms per day.
You may even want to speak with other parents to see if you can collaborate on making sure that students have access to healthy, nutritious snacks every day. Preparing healthy snacks doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, either. Try slicing up fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and celery and pairing them with hummus or some other kind of dip for added flavor. Similarly, legumes and fruits make for an excellent boost of energy as the day progresses.
Make Regular Doctor’s Visits a Top Priority
Maintaining a strong relationship with a primary care physician is a key element of keeping your kids healthy. Even though your kids might think it’s a pain, regular checkups with their pediatrician are an important part of overall well-being. The same goes for caring for their braces and getting regular cleanings at the dentist. It’s up to you as a parent to communicate the importance of these habits.
If you discover that visits to the doctor’s office or dentist office are particularly difficult for one of your children, then you may want to consider setting up some incentives for them. Maybe a successful trip to the doctor’s office earns them an extra hour of video games, internet use, or television. You can try and adjust your approach depending on the nature of your child’s behaviors. Establishing the right habits early on in life will help your child carry these kinds of habits on with them into adolescence and adulthood.
Encourage Your Children to Learn About Health
Although your influence is certainly an important part of keeping your kids healthy, at a certain point it’s a good idea to help them create their healthy habits. As your child ages and grows up, it is important for them to have a personal, innate motivation for staying healthy. Encouraging health education is a great way to ensure that your child develops the right habits for the right reasons.
Getting your child started on a health subject of their choice is often as easy as visiting your local library. There is no shortage of information on diet, nutrition, and exercise available for free. Similarly, a public library is a great place for your child to stumble upon new fields of interest that carry over into other areas of their health.
Opt for Homemade Meals Instead of Takeout
You could live right down the street from a restaurant with the best Italian food in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s better to opt for homemade options most of the time. Not only does cooking at home save you money, but it also allows you to create meals that are far more healthy and nutritious than those you will find in most restaurants. Controlling ingredients and dishes is a great way to establish the right home meal routines if you’re interested in keeping your kids healthy.
Depending on the age and willingness of your children, you may want to consider taking your child to the grocery store with you. Allowing your child to see what goes into a meal is a great way to show them the life cycle of a meal. This tends to lead to a greater appreciation and gratitude for their food, even if they may not appreciate the flavors at first. Getting your child involved in their diet early on is an excellent way to establish healthy nutritional habits across their lifetime. When you create a home environment where cooking is the norm, then going out to eat at a restaurant becomes even more of a luxury when it does happen.
The next time your kids want takeout, consider having a family picnic instead. Make some sandwiches or even a few fancier picnic dishes, grab a hard cooler for drinks, and head to your local park! A family picnic is a great way to reinforce healthy habits while also getting your child out in some local scenic nature spots in your neighborhood.
Teach Good Hygiene Habits
Just like any environment where lots of people gather and congregate, early childhood education is fraught with germs. Good hygiene habits such as handwashing, proper sneeze/cough etiquette, etc. can save your kids from a myriad of colds and other nasties while they’re at school. Even if you assume that the school teachers and administration are doing a good job of keeping students mindful of their hygiene, you can never be too cautious. When children are sure of their role in their hygiene, they are far more likely to maintain health and wellness throughout their day.
A lot of people overlook teaching their kids the full process of proper handwashing techniques. There are many videos you can find online that demonstrate the proper way to wash your hands. Furthermore, it’s important to check that your children are keeping up on following through with their hygiene habits.
Hygiene doesn’t end with washing hands, however. You should also see to it that your children are bathing and cleaning themselves regularly. This is particularly important for children who get lots of physical activity. Staying clean is key to staying free of sickness and colds.
Place an Emphasis on Physical Activity and Movement
Keeping your kids healthy is as much about diet as it is about exercise. This should come as no surprise, though. In a world that’s increasingly immobile and sedentary, regular exercise is more important than it’s ever been in the past. But what can you do to ensure that your children are getting the volume and level of exercise necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
When it comes to exercise and activities at home, make sure that your child has access to the types of activities that they genuinely enjoy taking part in. Exercise is much easier to establish when you pair it with an enjoyable game, sport, or other social activity. You can encourage your child to play with other children in the neighborhood. Similarly, you can go outside and play with them. Regardless of their preferences, it’s a good idea that your child gets a decent amount of movement and exercise each and every day.
Exercise and physical activity at school, while still a challenge, is a bit easier to control. Most schools offer a range of different sports teams and competitions to appeal to all kinds of children. Again, helping your child find the right type of activity that is engaging to them is key to establishing and maintaining a regular exercise routine. If your child is outgoing and competitive, then team-based sports such as baseball, basketball, and hockey may be perfect for them. Conversely, quieter, more introverted children may be more attracted to sports such as swimming, cross country running, and weight lifting. Whatever your child’s preference or natural inclination, it’s a good idea to always encourage their involvement in sports and other physical activities at school.
Set Limits on Screen Time
Parents in the past didn’t have to deal with the problems presented by smartphones, video games, tablets, and other forms of technology. However, parents in the modern-day must contend with these devices if they are to ensure a healthy, happy upbringing. While you don’t have to completely cut your child off from screens and technology, developing a clear policy on technology usage is a necessary part of keeping your kids healthy both at home and school.
A lot of parents find it productive to enforce screen time limits in order to ensure that their children are getting enough time to exercise and explore the outdoors. A lot of devices make it quite easy to configure screen time limitations that will automatically log off once the time limit is reached. Whatever your opinion or approach to technology, there is no denying that it’s important to set some sort of limits up if you’re interested in keeping your kids healthy.
Make Sure Your Kids Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a crucial component of health for people of all ages. Without adequate sleep, your body’s immune system is compromised. Lack of sleep also contributes to problems with digestion, skin health, and focus. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to assist your children in keeping a positive relationship to sleep.
Healthy sleep all starts by establishing a reliable night time routine. With a routine, your child will have a much easier time recognizing when it’s time to sleep and why it’s important. Straying from that routine will also show them, firsthand, what their day is like if they miss out on getting enough deep sleep.
There are some classic techniques that you can use to set up a regular bedtime routine. Storytime has been around for a long time, and for good reason. Reading to your children in bed is an excellent way to prepare them for a good night’s sleep. Similarly, you may want to encourage them to get in the habit of reading a book in bed every night before they sleep.
While keeping your kids healthy certainly begins in the home, it’s not impossible to ensure that healthy habits are maintained throughout the school day, either. By following these simple tips, you can be confident that your child gets the nutrition, activity, and routines that will keep them healthy for many years to come.