SUPPORTING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
We are preparing to send our kiddos off for another year of learning and enrichment. We are entrusting our children to teachers and staff at our schools to challenge and build the traditional skills in math, reading, and technology and beyond.
As parents, how do we support their learning beyond the school day curriculum? I know I do not have the skills nor the desire to teach algebra, or sentence structure, or plant biology, but I do have the ability to teach my children about how to support their bodies so they can learn all of those things when they are at school.
Our schedules definitely get a bit hectic this time of year with sports, school events, and squeezing in the last bit of summer fun. Being pulled in seven different directions with all of the things sometimes makes it hard to prioritize the different activities. As a mom, making sure my kids eat well and get sleep are two of the things I can support regularly.
How I do that from day to day varies based on our schedule but here are a few things I do to support their healthy lifestyle:
Help them eat well
Breakfast - My kids aren’t huge breakfast eaters but I know the importance of sending them to school with a good foundation for the day. Eggs, toast with peanut butter or a smoothie are all on a regular rotation at our house. I try to limit the amount of sugar they put in their bodies especially before they head off to school and give them some fat and protein to help keep them full and stay focused in the morning.
Lunch - My youngest is now in middle school but like his brother and sister before him he packs his lunch everyday. To help him make better choices, I give him a framework of options to pack. I make sure to have his favorite fruits/vegetables on hand and ready to go, whole wheat bread for sandwiches, and his favorite flavor yogurt cups are a few staples.
Dinner - I don’t know about you but making dinner is one of the things that challenges me the most. I’ve come home from work and I’m tired and frazzled and my family wants the answer to the question—“Mom, what’s for dinner?” One practice that I have implemented recently that has really helped me make short work of dinner is cooking a large batch of protein on Sunday that can be used for multiple meals throughout the week.
For example—5 pounds of chicken breast cooked on the grill on Sunday can be cut up and used for chicken tacos on Monday and pasta with chicken on Tuesday. Or pork tenderloin thrown in the crockpot when I leave for work on Monday morning becomes pulled pork sandwiches on Monday night, Asian inspired pork bowls on Tuesday, and just plain pork with quinoa and veggies on Thursday.
Make bedtime and the morning routine easier—
Pre planning here is key. I try to look at the calendar on Sunday and check in with my husband on the weeks activities and responsibilities. When does he need to drive kids somewhere so I can make dinner? What night does he/I have to stay at work late? How many sports practices/events do we have? The list of obligations goes on and on, but learning how and when to tag team if that is an option is critical. Even more important is learning how to share responsibilities with other parents whose kids are on the same teams/activity schedule that yours are.
Encourage your kids to check their backpack and lay out their clothes for the next day before they go to bed, pack lunches the night before, and review the next day’s homework assignments.
Help them unwind—the first days of the school year can be especially challenging for our kids as they adjust from the freedom a relaxed summer schedule to the structured days of the school year. Take 20-30 minutes to chat with them about their day, have everyone put away their phones and just check in, encourage them to disconnect from their phones—maybe read a book, find a ‘family show’, or just go for a walk. The important thing is to help them find a break between the busy and bed.
Set a bedtime—for them and for you! It’s really important for all of us to be getting quality sleep to support our mental, emotional and physical health.
Need more resources? Here are some of my favorite places to look on Instagram for healthy tips and tricks:
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe school year!
Theresa Lovings, Association Director of Health and Wellness