Back to School feels a lot like January – a fresh start, a chance to rethink your ways, the motivation to improve. Total tabula rasa. Neither you nor your kids have goofed anything up yet…. ahh, doesn’t it feel good? Use this renewed positive spirit to form new healthy habits for the school year that lies ahead, still untainted; or to reinstate some bygone good habits you had neglected towards the end of the last school year.
Try these habits on for size…
- Be involved. Be a role model. It’s as simple as that; yet that’s exactly what can make raising healthy, active kids challenging. You have to get in on the ground level with them. Getting kids interested in healthy food takes spending time with them in the kitchen and at the grocery store – or better yet, the farmer’s market. Making sure your kids get their daily exercise sometimes means you have to set that latte down and do lunges with them at the park. Walk the walk. And speaking of which…
- These Twinkle Toes are made for walking. Walk more. Walk to school with your kids, if you can. In fact, walk to wherever possible – walk your kids over to their friend’s house, walk to the post office and walk to the grocery store with them (Geez, what are you waiting for? There will never be a better excuse to treat yourself to one of these cute shopping buddies or those chic pull-alongs).
- Fit in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. (This builds on 1. and 2. above). Making sure kids get adequate daily exercise really takes an enormous effort on the parents’ part, which is probably why so many of us don’t do it. On the days your child isn’t involved in organized sports after school, it’s a good idea to clear an hour from your schedule and engage in a physical activity together with your children, especially while they are younger. And it doesn’t hurt you either now, does it?
- Become your child’s Wellness Advocate at school. Get involved in the school lunch program. What’s your kid’s school doing to improve nutrition in the lunchroom? If the answer doesn’t make you happy, push them to start implementing steps to make school lunch better. (Look for our article on how to fight for healthier lunch at your kid’s school on Wednesday!) When it comes to PE, our adviser and nationally renowned childhood obesity expert James O. Hill, Ph.D. says, “Find out what physical education is offered at your child’s school. And if it’s not very much, get active, talk to the district folks. Tell them that you really value physical activity and support for your child to be active.”
- Make healthy breakfast a priority. (Broken record alert! Sorry… but it’s just what we do.) School mornings are crazy and it’s easy to become remiss about our kids’ breakfast. It happens to all of us from time to time. Don’t let breakfast become an afterthought. It’s critical that kids leave with good nutrients in their tummy to perform better at school. A healthy breakfast sets the tone for healthier eating throughout the day.
- Stock up on healthy after-school snacks. Kids are hungry when they come home from school. They will eat whatever they find when they open the pantry and the fridge. Empower them to make their own choices, but it’s in your hands what you put on the shelves for them to pick from.
- Limit TV and computer time to two hours per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children under two and two hours of screen time a day for older children. Of course, we totally recommend your kid spends some of that time on ZisBoomBah.com, learning about better-for-you choices and playing fun food games!
- Be an active family. Living a healthy family lifestyle indeed is one of the greatest gifts you can offer to your children. It will set them on the right path for a healthy future. Pick a physical activity you will engage in together as a family this school year. Ideas for starters? Go on a long bike ride or a hike on weekends. Swim 50 laps together on Thursday nights. Play racquetball at the local rec center one night a week. Have fun planning your winter action now. How about you start snowshoeing this year?
Back-to-school time is turbulent as it is; your casual summer routine abruptly changes into a much more rigid, action packed school week. And somehow, no matter how fat you mark the first day of school in your calendar, it still hits you in the face. Us too. Trying to do it all the healthier way can feel overwhelming. We recognize that. We all try our best to make everyday a little healthier, and sometimes the fam still ends up on the couch, eating dinner in front of the TV. Embrace those nights too – as the happy times that make your kids feel cozy at home. In fact, celebrate it with really a indulgent dessert. Then the next day will be a mini back-to-school start again with a fresh chance to live a little better…