Summer causes many families to fall out of healthy routines. While the kids are out of school, you’re taking family vacations, staying home more and probably having a little too much ice cream!
Here, we have a lot of families with young children, so we made this list of tips for getting back in gear and creating a healthy back-to-school routine for your kids.
- Get Enough Sleep
This back-to-school tip goes for both you and your kids! Preparing for a good morning begins the night before.
Most kids and teens need 7-9 hours of sleep — and really, that’s a great amount for you, too — but small children need even more.
Recommending “getting more sleep” is one thing — but how do you reset kids’ internal clocks when you’ve been lax about sleep schedules all summer?
- Be Active Together
One way to help kids get more sleep is to get your energy out as a family! Here are some great ideas for incorporating natural movement into your family schedule:
This family activity has the added benefit of teaching your kids to like vegetables! Kids are more likely to be excited to try something they’ve worked for and helped grow with their own hands. Here are some ideas for veggies you can grow with your kids.
Whether you each jump on a bike or have a couple of shared bikes, riding bikes together as a family is a great way to be active and have fun!
Walking the Dog or Going to a Dog Park Together
Since you have to walk the dog anyway, why not walk him as a family?
Being active together as a family will also have the added effect of naturally reducing kids’ screen time — and they’ll be having so much fun they’ll hardly notice.
Exercise Tip: Exercise should be either a morning activity or right after kids get out of school. Your kids need time to calm down before bedtime so exercise doesn’t interfere with their sleep.
- Make Healthy Meals
Another important part of a healthy back-to-school routine (not to mention taking care of your children’s teethand preventing cavities) is eating right. Eating well helps kids pay better attention in class, sleep better and get sick less frequently.
It’s not always easy to pack more veggies into your kid’s lunch box, but here are some ideas to help:
- Sneak them into smoothies! Baby kale and spinach blend in easily and don’t have much taste — especially when combined with powerful flavors like banana or peanut butter.
- Make a healthy veggie dip, and present the veggies in a fun, snackable way (bento box, ants-on-a-log and cute veggie critters are just a few examples)
- Put more vegetables into your soups. Especially if they’re chopped up small and mixed with other things like meat and potatoes, your kids may not even notice they’re there!
- Schedule Dental Appointments for the Year
If you’ve tried calling a dentist recently, you may have noticed that back-to-school time is one of the most difficult times to get an appointment! You are competing with all the other parents.
Instead, why not arrange all your appointments in advance throughout the year? Find a dentist in your area with flexible hours so your kids don’t even have to miss school. Many dentists now keep some Saturday and evening hours.
Start keeping an Excel sheet or Google calendar with each of the yearly appointments your kids need — checkup at the doctor, cleaning at the dentist, and whatever else they may require — and go ahead and schedule each appointment months in advance. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, so yearly dental checkups are not something you can afford for your children to miss.
- Make Hydration a Habit
As much as possible, try to minimize sugary sodas and other drinks in your household, and make water your family’s drink of choice. Set a good example for your kids by drinking lots of water yourself!
Make drinking water fun for your kids. Here are some great ways to do that:
- Infuse it with some fruit
- Freeze some berries into ice cube trays
- Use the “When…then” approach: “When you’re done drinking this big cup of water, then you can go play” or something similar
- Make it a family rule that when you eat out, you each have to get a glass of water in addition to (or instead of) another drink, and drink at least half of it.
- Prepare the Night Before
In building healthy back-to-school habits, one way to make school mornings less stressful is to do as much as possible the night before. Involve your kids in the preparation! Ease your own burdens while giving your kids greater agency and responsibility.
- Let your kids help select their lunch
- Give them choices and let them assemble their own bento box or lunch box
- Pick out outfits the night before, and give your kids as many opportunities to choose as possible
- Have an organized “school shelf” with their backpack, notebooks and anything else they may need
- Create a Healthy Habits Checklist
Many parents make a morning/evening routine chart for their little ones. This is a fun way to encourage healthy habits and develop responsibility in your kids!
You can use stickers, dry erase markers or Velcro to check off items on the chart when they’ve done each activity.
Your healthy habits checklist might include:
- Brushing Teeth
- Washing Face
- Combing Hair
- Picking Up Toys
- Taking a Bath
- Making Lunch
And whatever else makes sense for you and your child.
Forming a Healthy Back-to-School Routine
Back-to-school time doesn’t have to be stressful; it can be a lot of fun for your kids and can help them grow as they learn responsibility! You might try focusing on each of these habits one-by-one and gradually adding one as each gets mastered in the weeks leading up to going back to school.