The first step toward a happier, healthier school year is packing nutritious lunches that your kids want to eat and that give them the energy they need to get through the day. It may be tempting to give them a weekly lunch allowance to spend at the school cafeteria, or give them pre-packaged foods in a bag and call it lunch but that isn't the most beneficial course of action for you – or them. First off, pre-packaged lunches (you know, the ones that come in a plastic container with several compartments filled with various parts of the meal) will end up costing you a lot more than fresh, homemade items. Not to mention anything in a box is likely filled with preservatives, and cafeterias usually serve things like cookies, French fries and other junk foods that aren't healthy on a consistent basis.
Say goodbye to chips, cookies and other fat- and sugar-laden snacks. They're costly and they offer no nutritional value to speak of so it's time to knock them right off your shopping list. Instead, offer snacks that are filling but that pack an energizing punch. Here are a few ideas to consider:
The school year can amp up very quickly. What begins at a leisurely pace can easily escalate into a whirlwind of homework, team practice, club meetings and social activities before you know it, which can tax even the most energetic and well-adjusted kids. To avoid ending up with a stressed-out student, try to monitor the daily load your kids are dealing with. If it seems like your kids have a busier schedule than you do, you might want to schedule some enforced down time. No, we're not suggesting you banish your overachievers to their rooms, but do make it clear that taking some time to relax amid the plethora of commitments is a good idea.
Homework assignments make it tough to monitor and limit screen time, but at the same time, staring at a laptop for the better part of the afternoon and evening does not a healthy student make. Have a designated homework time built into the family schedule and depending on the scope of the project or research being done use your judgement where timing is concerned. But once homework is done, the laptop or tablet goes away. Knowing how and when to disconnect from the digital world (and all those gadgets) is important, and a skill that should kids of all ages should learn (with you setting the right example, of course).
No school year can be counted as healthy if there isn't any physical activity involved. If your kids are into sports and other pastimes that burn calories while fun is being had, you're in the clear. But if your offspring look at video games as an "activity" it may be time to get them moving. Encourage exercise and spending time outdoors getting fresh air, ideally 25 to 30 minutes a day. If your kids are young enough (i.e., not yet embarrassed to be seen in public with their parents), plan post-dinner walks and bike rides. Any time spent in motion and getting fresh air is a good thing.
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