’Tis the season! No, it’s not Christmas, although it’s just as exciting! The start of the school year always brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions – anticipation, nervousness, hopefulness and so much more. This year has been an incredibly trying time for everyone, so whether your kids are returning to school in-person or virtually, a great routine will help them stay healthy and happy.
With the wild days and nights of summer behind us, it’s vital to return to a more structured and scheduled sleep routine. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to difficulty learning, poor concentration and decreased problem-solving skills. Promote a restful sleep for your little one by creating a nightly routine. Include time to unwind without electronics; reading or playing a board game is a great way to disconnect in the evenings. For older kids who are on devices closer to bedtime, consider getting them a pair of blue light blocker glasses. Blue light has been shown to suppress melatonin production which can lead to various health problems, including obesity and depression.
Promote a healthy sleep environment with dark shades, clean bedding, comfy pj’s and a temperature of 16-20C. Kids age 5-12 need about 9 to 11 hours of solid sleep per night. While teens should get about 8 to 10 hours per night.
I love to start the day off right and nourish my kids with a protein and fibre rich breakfast. My favourites include homemade waffles, chia pudding and loaded oatmeal. I also like to use their packed lunches as an opportunity to provide quality sustenance for the day. To help curb their cravings I include something salty and something crunchy. Fruits and veggies not only provide nutrition, they are a great way to help kids stay hydrated. As children get distracted, they drink less water, and dehydration can affect their ability to concentrate. Include cucumber sticks, watermelon and other juicy produce.
Supplementation also plays a critical role in proper nutrition. I suggest creating a solid foundation with a good multi-vitamin, vitamin D, probiotics and fish oil. Supplements are also a great way to help boost your little ones immune system during the fall and winter.
All summer long, kids are (hopefully) spending lots of time outside. Tiring out their bodies by playing ball, jumping on the trampoline, socializing and learning how to be little people – I love it! Once school starts, much of their awake time moves indoors. Help them adjust by continuing to encourage outdoor play after school. While the days are still long and fairly warm, enjoy a post-dinner family bike ride or neighbourhood walk together, the peaceful downtime will do wonders for everybody.
We want our kids to feel comfortable sharing their struggles and triumphs with us, especially during this time of transition. Studies show that children who feel that their parents make time to listen to them are more likely to feel happy and supported. Enjoy meals together, start conversations and encourage communication. Teach your kids to practice gratitude and promote positivity. Educate your little ones on how to be aware of and support their mental health and well-being.
Getting back to school is a big adjustment for small brains and bodies. Work on making achievable daily changes which will add up to big results. Focus on fresh, whole foods, continue to promote outdoor time, prioritize family fun and be sure to remind them to wash those little hands and faces with all-natural soap and water regularly.