Stay Healthy And Happy This School Year!

With the school year fast approaching, here are some tips to keep your family healthy and happy during this important fall transition. There can be many stresses for both kids and parents when starting a new school year. The anxiety of wondering if they will be in a class with their friends, not knowing their new teacher, where their classrooms are, and even what subjects they will be learning in school. Every grade has its own set of challenges, from elementary to high school. To give your family the tools to succeed, there are several things you can do at home to start the new school year off right and maybe even get your family into healthier habits!

Get those ZZZs

No matter their age, it’s extremely important to ease kids into the transition of a new school year. Implementing a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule a week or two before the first day of school will get them used to a routine after their summer break. Getting between 8-10 hours of sleep a night is imperative for a child’s ability to stay focused, maintain concentration, and even improve academic performance. Sticking with an agreed-upon weekday and weekend schedule is the first step to raising a successful student.

An Apple a Day

Although the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” might not have any scientific proof, it is important to provide healthy meals for you and your kids during the school year.

Let’s face it, some kids are picky eaters, and it can be a struggle to get them to eat anything not heavily processed and laden with high sugar content. Try these ideas for healthy and quick breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners!

Breakfast: Need ideas for quick and easy breakfasts? Breakfast helps boost metabolism for the day and improve brain function (including memorization, concentration, performing better on tests, increasing hand-eye coordination skills, and even creativity). Eating breakfast gives everyone a jumpstart for a good day!

⁃ Overnight Oats: Let each kid pick out their favorite flavor combinations and have them help put their breakfasts together the night before! These endless combinations are sure to get any kid’s approval.

⁃ Whole Grain Waffles with Peanut or Almond Butter and Dark Chocolate Chips: Many popular brands carry more nutritious whole grain frozen waffles and after a minute or so in the toaster create a yummy breakfast! Add some nut butters and extra energy from dark chocolate chips, your kids will be begging for these every morning!

⁃ Egg Cups: Mix together 10 eggs with your favorite toppings like cheese, peppers, onions, sausage, spinach, bacon bits, ham, or zucchini. Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until the eggs are fully cooked. Store in plastic bags in the fridge or freezer for an easy microwavable breakfast or snack!

Lunch: When packing a lunch for school or work, try something healthy that can be done the night before!

⁃ Turkey Roll-Ups: Upgrade your everyday lunch meat and cheese with these quick roll-ups! Try switching up your meats and cheeses for different flavors to keep lunch interesting.

⁃ Bento Box: The ultimate pick and mix! Purchase reusable meal prep containers and fill them with their favorite snacks to create a balanced lunch. Some simple combinations you can try are:

· grapes, cheese sticks, mini carrots, with hummus and pita chips

· strawberries, yogurt, turkey lunch meat rolled up with cheese sticks, and celery sticks with peanut butter

· hard-boiled eggs, apple slices with peanut butter, clementine, and pasta salad

⁃ Taco Salad: Have Taco Tuesday whenever you want with this easy shell-less taco salad. Make with turkey meat for a less fat option.

Dinner: Dinners can be the most hectic time for families, but it’s also an opportunity to sit down and talk about the day. Since the week is already stressful enough, cooking ahead can help alleviate the pressure of the never-ending question “What’s for dinner?”.

⁃ One Sheet Dinners: One of the easiest ways to cook dinner is using one pan, a sheet of aluminum foil, and heating up JUST the oven. Try sausage and peppers served with rice, chicken thighs with broccoli, or even pork tenderloin with carrots, potatoes, and herbs.

⁃ Slow Cooker Dinners: If you haven’t invested in a slow cooker, it’s one of the most convenient ways to cook dinner! Prep your meals ahead of time and freeze them. When you’re ready, turn on the slow cooker before you head to school and work, and by the time you get home, there’s a healthy meal waiting for you at the end of a long day! Some family favorites are Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, Ground Turkey Pasta Bake, and Vegetarian Quesadillas

⁃ Casseroles: Let’s not forget the good ole casserole! Casseroles are a great way to create a meal in one pan and can be frozen for future use. Swap noodles for Zucchini in a Zucchini Chicken Enchilada Casserole, hearty

⁃ Shepherd’s Pie for the winter, or check out a low-carb Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole!

Limit Screen Time

Digital devices are everywhere nowadays. Phones, tablets, TVs, video game consoles, you can’t seem to get away from them. They can be a great teaching tool, but they can also distract children from getting a good night’s sleep and can have a negative impact on their brain development. Restricting the number of hours of screen time kids have throughout the day can also encourage the development of social skills, problem-solving abilities, and help foster individual talents. By limiting screen time an hour before bedtime, it helps the brain wind down to prepare for a full night’s sleep.

A Quiet Place With Rewards

The dreaded phrase “Did you do your homework?” usually results in an eye roll and a painful search for their backpack. Creating a quiet and distraction-free environment is key in getting students to sit and focus on schoolwork. Put phones on silent, turn off music and television, and limit other distractions. Instead of associating homework with negative feelings, it’s important to reward kids after they accomplish something. Whether it’s a ten-minute study break, their favorite snack, or a bike ride around the block, that little reward can go a long way. Finding what reward your child enjoys can help to encourage them to do their homework. Homework doesn’t have to be such a battle if you can find out what makes your student tick.

Germs, Germs, Germs!

Although we can’t be with our kids to remind them to practice good hygiene every second of the day, starting early is key to creating this good habit. With COVID still emerging throughout the country and the recent outbreak of monkeypox, it’s more important than ever to encourage hygiene at school and home. Since many mask mandates have been lifted, it’s important to remind your kids to always wash their hands for twenty seconds after the bathroom and before meals. Kids should also be aware that sharing drinks and utensils with friends can spread unwanted germs. And covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze can stop the spread of viruses. By practicing these simple steps, they can act as the first defense against getting sick this school year!

Routines

There’s nothing worse than searching for papers, backpacks, shoes, and other important items for school. Set up one spot in your home for their backpacks and other school-related items so they get in the habit of keeping things in the same place. It will save the entire family from headaches in the future and wasting valuable time in the morning searching for Timmy’s lost shoes, homework, or school baseball uniform.

Create A Family Calendar

Life gets hectic! Especially at the beginning of the school year. The entire family is suddenly thrust into a new routine after summer. Doctor’s appointments, football tryouts, PTA meetings,

and last-minute BBQs all fill up the schedule! Admit it: you can’t be expected to remember everything going on during the week. Creating a family calendar either in a print, whiteboard, or Google Calendar that everyone can see will make sure the entire family knows when important events are coming up and how to coordinate travel plans between different family members. Don’t forget to include emergency phone numbers of the parents, kids, extended family, a trusted family friend, and medical providers.

Accidents Happen!

Let’s face it: Accidents happen! Kids are going to scrape their knees and bump their heads from time to time. Before school is the perfect time to re-assess your first-aid kit. Make sure to have the essentials at home, in your car, and keep one in your purse if possible. The Red Cross has an extensive list of what to include in your family’s first aid kit. Read their article HERE. Stay calm during an accident and know when it requires some rest at home, a doctor’s appointment, or an ER visit. The Red Cross is a great resource for training and other emergency preparation information. The worst preparation is no preparation.

We hope by implementing just a few of these tools, the start of your school year will create a happier healthier family!

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