Returning to School…. and to a Healthy Routine

A return to school, in one form or another, has started once again for your children. This year may not seem “normal” in the midst of a pandemic, but there are some basic healthy habits that will help you and your kids enjoy the school days to come. So… grab your kids and start planning a healthy routine together!

Maintain set times for meals and talk to your kids about foods that keep them healthy and help them grow, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein. Give them a choice when, for example, picking out a nutritious whole grain cereal to make a healthy breakfast or colorful fruits and veggies with hummus dip for a vitamin-packed snack.  Save chips, cookies or soda for a once-in-awhile treat.

Reinforce good hygiene practices at school and home: wearing masks and social distancing when necessary; frequent handwashing and keeping hands away from face and eyes.  At home, have kids wash hands before eating, before helping in the kitchen, and after playing with pets.

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress along with numerous other health benefits.  Help your kids aim for at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity along with muscle and bone-strengthening exercises. Think of ways the entire family can be active together: walks after dinner, ball games, raking leaves or a dance party indoors.

Limit screen time (other than schoolwork) to no more than 2 hours a day.  Put devices down during meals and snacks and encourage conversation instead. When screen time is up, let each child choose an alternate activity they enjoy, such as reading, board games or crafting.  Remember, kids really do pick-up on what their parents do, so it is important to be a healthy role model.

A good night’s rest is essential for children to get through their day. On average, a child may need between 8 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Having enough exercise, nutritious food, and a routine children can expect will help contribute towards a restful night.

While the coronavirus has changed our schedules’, sticking to a healthy routine will help your kids feel safe and secure as well as build strong, healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Need additional tips for creating a healthy routine? Read Get Your Family Routine Back on Track by Stephanie Booth.

Additional resources:

Choose MyPlate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Healthy Sleep Habits: How Many Hours Does Your Child Need? from the American Academy of Pediatrics

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