Back to School Survival Guide
School is back in session! It’s a very busy time of year for families who are readjusting to the regular schedule and routine that school and after school sports bring. With the hectic change of pace it can be challenging to keep up healthy habits. When you combine this with the close intermingling of kids in the classroom, you may find that a microbe jumps on to your little one for a ride home to get the whole family a little sick.
Start with the basics! I can tell you that all the immune boosting powers in the world aren’t going to be as helpful as they can be when starting with good foundations.
Sleep is Crucial
Yes, you know this to be true and it’s especially important for little ones. School aged children should get 8-10 hours of sleep every night. They will need more the younger they are. I recommend to adjust the bedtime one month in advance of school starting. This will be easier and keep everyone a little less stressed than going from late summer bedtimes to a stringent school schedule overnight.
Prioritize Healthy Lunches And Snacks
Involve your child in the process of trying new foods for their lunchbox. Go shopping together for special lunch containers to pack food and grocery items. Let them pick some of the food items. Try out some new recipes and make a fun experience of it by cooking together! Sometimes kids are much more responsive to healthy eating if they feel like they are in control of it. Experiment with vegetables for picky eaters – grill, bake, blend, sauté, serve raw with dipping sauce, try different marinades etc. As a parent, you can give them the sense of control even though you are being mindful of the options they are presented with.
Clear The Schedule
Kids don’t need to run at 100 mph with something to do every moment of everyday. We are running our kids into the ground without realizing it! The mind and the body (immune system included) are not separate entities. Some signs that your child could be overwhelmed with a busy schedule include: your child complains a lot about being tired all the time, your child is developing anxiety or has trouble sleeping. I recommend giving your children an opportunity to have nothing on the schedule at least one day per week. At least try to incorporate downtime into the daily routine. Downtime should not include TV, tablets or cell phones. What we want to support is unstructured play, which allows children to find and pursue their interests. Downtime provides an opportunity for self-awareness. This helps kids to clarify who they are through the exploration of their own interests.
The likelihood of nutritional deficiencies are much more common than you might think. Even amongst the healthier eaters, nutritional depth and value can be a struggle with poor food soil quality alone. Support a whole foods diet with vitamins and minerals found in a good quality multivitamin, omega 3 essential fatty acids for brain development and overall health, as well as a high potency probiotic for immune support and a decrease in illness frequency.
I will be the first to tell you that I avoid sickness and “germs” with the best of them. It just takes so long for a bug to run its course when you have a larger family. Therefore, the time it robs my family of is the most frustrating aspect of it for me. However, I will say that getting a little sickness here and there is a healthy task for the immune system. It’s the age old saying, “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”. I bring this up because if you and your family do get an illness, just take it as an opportunity for a little more rest and nurture. Trust in the innate wisdom of the body to recover and heal.
Sickness also teaches us to be grateful for our good health. Moreover, without getting deep into the science of it all, understand that sickness from viruses, bacteria, fungus or parasites play a very complex role in the maturation of a child’s immune system. The immune repertoire is shaped by these illnesses along the way, resulting in immunological memory and fewer infections as young adults. It’s all part of the grand process!
If sickness should arise, I am happy to help support the healing process to make it more efficient so you can get back to your normal routine.