Establishing Healthy Habits with the New School Year

Has the summer flown by for your family? Did you get your checklist done? Were you able to spend all the days you wanted at Dollywood and the waterparks? Summer always feels too short. School is starting back, and now you need to get your kids back on a healthy routine.

Get enough sleep

We all need enough sleep to be the best versions of ourselves. Getting enough sleep helps our brains to function properly, but you also are in a better mood when you’re well rested. Those things are important for children, but they also need the proper amount of sleep to support brain development. Your kids are learning lots of skills at school. They may be learning new academic material like developing their phonics skills or growing their mathematical ability. Your kids are also growing emotionally and socially. They are learning how to interact with others, collaborate, and play nicely. Their emotional response when things don’t go the way they desire is developing. Yes, you help your children with these skills, but applying what you’ve taught when you aren’t in the room is important.

Six to twelve year olds need 9-12 hours of sleep per night the older thirteen-eighteen year olds need 8-10 hours of sleep each night. If you have gotten relaxed on bedtime this summer, it’s time to start easing back into the routine now. If you need help thinking about what time your child needs to go to bed, there is a great chart here that details exactly what time a child should go to bed based on wake time for school.

You may think it is okay for your children to abide by this schedule during the week but that the routine goes out on the weekends. That isn’t ideal for your child. It takes some time to adjust to different sleep patterns. Disrupting the routine every weekend sets your child up to be tired during the school week.

Eating a healthy lunch

Just as sleep helps our brains grow, so does the food we eat. You want to send your child to a school with a healthy well balanced breakfast and you make every effort to have a healthy family dinner, but what about lunch. If you send lunch with your child, try to make it a colorful lunch full of fruits, vegetables, some protein, and whole grain. If you’ve gotten in a rut and need some ideas, let’s make an idea list:

  • Fresh fruit: grapes, apple slices, bananas, berries, chunks of melon or grape tomatoes.
  • Fresh vegetables: baby carrots or carrot sticks, broccoli, cucumber, bell pepper sticks, or celery.
  • Proteins: chicken slices, hard boiled egg, nuts, beans, edamame, peanut butter, and hummus.
  • Whole grain: when including grain, be selective and ensure it’s a high quality grain such as whole grain bread, pasta, crackers, quinoa, steel-cut oats, and other minimally processed grains.
  • Dairy: if you choose to include dairy, unflavored greek yogurt, plain milk, and a small amount of cheese are good choices.

Pack your lunches the evening before school. Your kids can help so that they take ownership in the meal. Some families like using bento boxes as there is a place for each food and helps with portion control.

Check immunization records

Lastly, before starting school, check your child’s immunization records. This is a good time of year to schedule your child’s well visit with their pediatrician. Your child’s doctor will ensure all milestones are being met and also check to make sure his or her shots are up to date. These appointments are often very easy and create some good dialog between your child and the doctor.

Our local pharmacies are here to support your family as you make strides to maintain and improve your health. The staff and owners are part of the community and are invested in your success. If you are currently not with a small pharmacy, now is the time for you to check out one of our local pharmacies. College Park Pharmacy, Howard’s Pharmacy, Mooney’s Pharmacy, and P&S Pharmacy are small businesses here in East Tennessee who pride themselves in customer service. They want to gain your trust and build a relationship with you. We strive to put patients first and help you improve your health. Please come by and see us.