Alas, we find ourselves in that all-too-familiar situation of wondering how summer is already coming to an end. (Anyone else feel like you were just at the bus drop off last week?) Since September is right around the corner, it’s time to get things in order to keep your brood healthy and strong as they prepare for the new school year. According to registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet and MegaFood spokesperson, “No matter how busy our day gets, there are simple steps to take to ensure your family's health is a top priority.” Ahead, five tips that’ll start you off on the right foot.
1. Continue to Encourage Outdoor Play
During the summer, playgrounds, bike rides and neighborhood games of tag come easy, but once the busy school schedule kicks in, activities tend to move indoors. Instead of accepting this change (and the TV marathons that come with it), continue to nudge your children to spend time outdoors, whether in the backyard or making a point to take them to the park (especially while the weather is still nice). It’ll keep their bodies moving and even promote a better night’s sleep (which we’ll get to in a bit).
2. Stock the Medicine Cabinet with the Good Stuff
And by “good stuff” we mean vitamins. Gans recommends that we should first try to meet nutritional needs through a well-balanced diet. “However, even if we eat “perfectly”, research has identified a decline in the nutrient composition of our food, so a high-quality multivitamin helps fill in those nutritional gaps.” If you’re already thinking of creative ways to get your family to remember to take a daily vitamin, we’re one step ahead of you. MegaFood® supplements come in a variety of forms; the Multivitamin Soft Chews can provide kiddos with a boost of antioxidants and vitamins for growth and development.* Not only are they extremely convenient (for parents, too!), but they also taste like a fruity treat.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
3. Don’t Forbid “Bad” Foods
When we’re told not to do (or eat) something it only makes us want to do it more, right? For this reason, try not to put a negative label on certain junk foods. Of course, we’d never tell you that it’s OK to give your family potato chips and ice cream for dinner, but once in a while it’s nice to indulge. Tip: We suggest only bringing special treats into the house when appropriate (rather than stashing them in your pantry) in an effort to keep the nutritional snacks front and center.
4. Teach Them About Hygiene Etiquette
Now that your kid is about to be back in the classroom, use these next few weeks to enforce some good habits while they’re with you everyday. Think: coughing or sneezing into their elbow (instead of your elbow) and reminding them to always wash their hands after using the restroom. Remember: They learn by example so make sure that you’re following suit, mom.
5. Establish a Bedtime Routine
Children are creatures of habit, and summertime allows for a lot of leniency. Rather than waiting until the first day of school to attempt to get your kids back on track, start making smaller (i.e., less noticeable) changes during the last month of summer break. For example, begin enforcing an earlier bedtime so they’re not asking for ten more minutes of sleep in the morning. Once school is in session, switching back to their usual weekday wake time won’t be such a shock. Wondering how much sleep is necessary? According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-age children require 9-11 hours and preschoolers require 10-13 hours.