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Simple tips for back to school balance

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.

Backpacks, books and lunch boxes... yes, it's back to school time. As summer unwinds and the sun sets just a bit earlier each night, the countdown to the first day of school is on. This year, give yourself a break and strike a balance between the carpools and chaos.

Here are four smarty-pants strategies to start the school year off right.

1. Prepare meals together

On nights when there are no after-school activities planned, involve your kids in meal prep. Ask them to help wash the veggies or set the table. Small tasks like this also teach your kids more about where food comes from, nature and also the importance of eating meals at home as a family. While you're at it, get your older kids involved in preparing their lunch for the next day. This will give you more time to sit down after dinner/before bed.

2. Eat breakfast together before school

As a mother of a 2-1/2 year old, I enjoy eating breakfast together before he heads off to toddler school. This is a nice time spent together and an opportunity to bond, giggle and swap bites of our cheese sandwiches. For older kids, this is a great time to talk about the day, who is going to be picking them up from school, what time dinner will be and, most importantly, a time when they feel they can share concerns, accomplishments and even some emotions that they are feeling. (Parents of teenagers are probably thinking "yeah, right!")

3. Stick to snacking on the weekends

Weekends are typically chock full of activities, family gatherings, birthday parties and even movie nights. Snacking is important as it keeps your blood sugar stable preventing not only mood swings and low energy. For kids, keeping this structure in place is important so that they are able to carry this habit into teenage years, college and adulthood. Remember, healthy habits develop early.

4. Resume bedtime routines

With activities, warmer nights and just free time, your kids may be playing outside well into the evening hours. Look at your calendars and aim to re-establish the bedtime routine at least one week before school starts. The advantage of a routine is to not only get them out the door on time so that you can head to the office or back home to take care of your little ones, but also to help them get through the school day when they need to be alert and energized.

Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration with Pronamel and SheKnows.

Photo credit: Abi Bell/ Moment/ Gettyimages
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