Five Tips for a Healthy Start to the School Year
Summer is winding down, and the start of a new school year is here! This time of year can be bittersweet and a little chaotic for both kids and parents. Adjusting sleep schedules, planning for school, and getting back into meal planning can all make the upcoming weeks challenging. Here are five tips from Brookview Wellness to help you get a healthy and safe start to the new school year.
Kids carry a lot of heavy stuff to and from school daily. Books, laptops, supplies, personal items and water bottles can all add up to an unreasonable amount of weight for a kid to lug around all day. Experts recommend that a child’s backpack only be 10-20% of their body weight. That means a kid weighing 85 pounds can safely carry a backpack weighing no more than 17 pounds. Anything heavier can lead to back, hip, neck and shoulder problems for your kiddo. If you are concerned that your child’s backpack may be too heavy, try some of these tips to lighten the load:
- Choose a backpack with thick, padded straps and encourage them to use both straps at all times. Some even have waist straps that can provide additional support.
- The backpack straps should fit snug and the bag close to the body to avoid extra stress on the back.
- Choose a backpack with multiple compartments. This will spread the items out and distribute the weight more evenly.
- Encourage your kids to only carry what they need for that day. Utilize lockers and leave unnecessary items at home or school.
- On days when the bag is particularly heavy, encourage your child to carry one of the bulkier items in their hands rather than the bag. Removing one large textbook or a laptop can make the backpack much more manageable and safer to carry.
Healthy School Lunches
Packing a healthy lunch can be challenging with all of the convenient pre-packaged foods available these days. We always love to see kids eating clean, fresh foods even when life is hectic. Fresh fruits and veggies, hummus, gluten-free wraps, soups, and lean proteins are some of our favorite lunch options. We love a good bento box for packing a healthy lunch. These cool boxes make organizing a portioned controlled lunch easy and fun to eat. Use a cute fruit and veggie cutter to make eating fresh and clean food fun for little ones. While it can be tempting to pack a sugary juice box into a lunch, water is always the best option to keep kids healthy and hydrated.
Hand Washing and Organic Hand Sanitizer
We all know that washing our hands regularly is an important part of staying well. Going back to school can expose your kids to new germs that lead to illness. Before the first day, talk to your kids about hand washing. It is important to wash hands before snacks and lunch, after recess and after group activities. In between, we recommend an organic hand sanitizer like this one from Dr. Bronner. These simple acts can make all the difference in your family’s health throughout the school year.
Stress Reducing Activities
Getting back into the routine of school can be stressful for kids and parents. New teachers, friends, schedules, and academic demands can stress kids out. Engage with stress reducing activities during this time to help your family through any rough patches. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to naturally reduce stress. Taking an evening walk or bike ride as a family is a great way to help everyone manage stress during these first weeks of school. Check out the Brookview Wellness blog for an awesome list of local places to exercise outside with your family.
Other stress reducing activities that we love are meditation and breathing exercises, yoga, or simply having a family game night full of laughs can make all the difference to your days and weeks during this time.
Get Adequate Sleep
New routines can be tough on a sleep schedule, particularly after the loose reins of the fun summer months. Kids of all ages need anywhere from 8 to 13 hours of sleep each night in order to perform their best, but these first weeks of school can be sleepy ones. If you have fallen off of the school year bedtime schedule, try to get back to it a week or two before school starts. Moving bedtime up a little each day as you approach the first day of school can help make this easier. Getting back onto a sleeping schedule can be tough. Try some of these tips to help kids get back on track with getting enough sleep:
- No electronic devices at least one hour prior to bedtime.
- Establish a bedtime routine with bathing, relaxing, reading and other low-key activities.
- Ensure a comfortable sleeping space with cozy blankets and preferred temperature and lighting.
- Avoid sugar and caffeine during the day.
- Be consistent with routines and times.
Settling into these routines for school can be easy with helpful information and adequate planning. We hope these tips were helpful for you and your family as you transition back into the academic year. We are cheering you on for a successful year ahead!