It’s no secret that the back-to-school season is a major transition for children and parents alike. In the midst of schedule changes, sleep deprived nights, and hectic early mornings, it can seem nearly impossible to stay healthy and energized throughout the day. However, making changes as a family is one of the best ways to prioritize the health of your entire household during the back-to-school season. Here are a few tips to help you keep your family’s physical and mental health in mind all school year long.
During summer, children’s diets are bound to go through at least moderate changes. Get them back on track when the school year starts by waking them up early enough to sit down and eat a healthy breakfast before jumping on the bus and heading off to school. Anything with protein will help to keep them full and focused all morning long.
Keep in mind, however, that meat isn’t the only way to get protein, so there’s no need to fill up on breakfast sausage or bacon to get going every day. Even though Americans eat an average of 66.5 pounds of beef every year, opting for yogurt, granola, or healthy snack bars are viable protein sources as well.
During the school year, early mornings can cause children of all ages to become seriously fatigued throughout the day. Seven to nine hours of sleep per night are what’s generally recommended, and setting your child’s bedtime in accordance with the time they need to wake up for school is the best way to make sure they get as much shut-eye as possible.
“A good night’s sleep is directly connected to both gut and overall health,” writes Rachel Allen on HyperBiotics. “With many kids busy almost right up until bed and then having to get up early to get to school, healthy sleep patterns can easily go out the window unless you make it a point to prioritize them.”
Finally, most parents realize that back-to-school seasons means the inevitable mixing and exchange of germs. Make sure your children understand the importance of keeping their hands clean and avoiding touching their eyes and face. Don’t be afraid to send them to school with a small bottle of hand sanitizer or wipes — flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours, and it’s always better to stay safe than to take the risk and end up getting sick.
A quick word of caution to parents who teach their kids to use hand sanitizer: it’s important to find a balance and not to overuse it. Sanitizing or using anti-bacterial products too frequently can cause harm to certain beneficial bacterias.
“Being overzealous when it comes to hygiene can be just as damaging,” writes Allen. “Cleansers, especially those that contain antibacterial ingredients like triclosan, can devastate the beneficial bacteria in your kids’ microbiomes, leaving them at risk for a number of health issues.”
Ultimately, keeping these tips in mind during the back-to-school season can help you and your whole family stay as healthy as possible all year long.