Habit #1: Establish a Healthy Bedtime
Help your kids establish a healthy time to go to bed as well as a time awake. The best way to do this is be strict on the wake up time and outlaw screen time in your house after 7pm (or earlier for younger kids) to allow natural sleepiness to take over and guide your child’s bedtime.
To function well, be healthy and perform well, we need sleep – and so do our kids. There’s a wide range of normal when it comes to sleep which usually means different bedtimes and waking times for different kids (even if they’re close in age). I’ve included some of the recommended sleep times for kids from the National Sleep Foundation, though it’s important to understand that a little more or less than these times is not unusual and is ok so long as your child is feeling and functioning well when they wake.
Preschool 10-13 hours per night
School 9-11 hours per night
Teenage 8-10 hours per night
Habit #2: Proper Hygiene
Between the busy-ness of the mornings and get things ready for the next day in the evenings, it’s easy to let things slip. Make sure routines and habits are in place for kids for all the basics, brushing/flossing, bathing, etc. For families with kids who get sick frequently and pass that illness around the house it’s important to take things to the next level. First make it a rule for everyone to wash hands when they come home from school and work. If that doesn’t help (and especially for younger kids) have everyone change out of their clothes from the day which may be carrying certain infectious bacteria or viruses.
Habit #3: Healthy Meals
Life gets busy so it is easy to get caught running late and rely on snack foods and bars more than real meals. In the long run it’s healthier for your whole family to consume healthy meals. A helpful tip is to do meal prep on Sunday afternoons as a family and get the kids involved this way, they can get excited about what they get to eat at school that week. For those families who are especially time strapped with extra-curricular activities, it can be helpful to prep all meals for the entire week.
Habit #4: Active Time Outside
Make sure the family is taking time to be outside and active. This might not be a daily thing, but it can easily be a once or twice a week activity. Examples are taking younger kids to the park, older kids to play soccer or catch with parents, going on hikes or any other number of activities. The main benefits here are time outside, in nature, connecting with your kids. Don’t forget to turn off your phone!
Habit #5: Time to Connect
Growing up it was easy, and normal, for me to go all week (Monday to Friday) barely interacting with my father. He had a long commute and usually was exhausted when he got home. It took until I was in college before I really started feeling like I knew my Dad, which is unfortunate. It’s easy to avoid a situation like that by scheduling out some time, both one on one and as a whole family to spend some time together where you can all connect in a low stress environment. This is why game nights are so popular but there are plenty of options like going to a museum, zoo, or special weekend trips.
If you have any questions or need more help with keeping your kid healthy through the school year, call our office at 916.351.9355.