Back to School - Sleep, Eating & Physical Activities
For many of us whose children attend school outside of the home (public or private) this is a time of year when we are rushing to get school supplies, school clothes & shoes, the new back pack and that really cool pencil pouch. OK maybe not rushing, some people actually plan ahead and all this done early in the summer. I'm not one of those people, I confess. Stress and pressure are my friends.
While it is important to prepare all the material stuff needed, apparently, on the first day of school, we also have to focus on the child and making sure they are prepared mentally and physically.
I have to digress here and say something about the school supplies. Really? She's in third grade, she needs all that paper to write on? She better be working on a dissertation or some long physics problem to be using so much paper in one school year. Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm shopping for others as well. Don't get me wrong, that's cool, I don't mind donating school supplies, I just wish I was given the option and not feel pressured to buy and send in a 24 pack of pencils, a dozen glue sticks, six composition notebooks, a two inch binder and 2 packs of loose leaf paper for my 3rd grade kid. Anyway, it seems I took off in a new direction for a moment.
But as a parent we need to place to focus back on the child's health. It is extremely important to discuss nutrition, sleep (seems teens need to stay up late and get up late which doesn't fit in with their current school schedule-oh shucks!), physical activity AND personal hygiene. I don't mean their daily bath and brushing their teeth - that's a given or it should be anyway. I mean the hand washing before eating, not drinking from other people's drinks and washing those grubby hands as soon as they walk in the door. Kids touch everything. Ugh!
About nutrition. Boy in my house new habits have to be established. Not because they eat poorly, I think in general my kids eat pretty healthy. I don't really buy junk food. I mean we usually have chips and salsa, crackers to eat with cheese or in soup and our fantastic friends might bring over their most delicious brownies. But none of these things are eaten in excess so I don't worry about it. The new habit is getting up at the crack of dawn and eating a healthy breakfast before 6:30 in the morning.
Photo by TowerGirl
Some ideas we like to share -
Hot breakfast - oatmeal, cream of wheat, pancakes and waffles, eggs and toast.
Cold Breakfast - High fiber, whole grain cereal with low fat or no fat milk, yogurt with granola, fruit & yogurt, mini bagel with peanut butter, hard boiled egg
After school snacks - apple with peanut butter, cheese stick and green apples, hummus and vegetables, fruit or fruit smoothie
The biggest concern, however, might be lunch time. Most or many kids bring lunch to school, some buy the school lunch and that's fine if they make the right choice. I was able to make them pack lunches until the first two hit high school years then it was just embarrassing to carry around a lunch bag. Well forgive me, mam/sir for wanting you to eat a good meal. Appearances mean a lot more I guess. However, that's only one meal in the day and although they may not have too many "good" choices to make, they need to know how and why to choose healthier options.
Listen here, this is important stuff --
With the rate of childhood obesity growing in the United States, it is up to us parents to help kids make better choices in any situation, stay active and live a healthier lifestyle. You can't expect one child to be on a diet while everyone else enjoys the goodies. It's not happening and it's not fair to the child to be singled out. So what do you do?
You (the entire family) should adopt new healthy eating habits because everyone should be eating healthy. You limit sedentary time and go do something fun and active TOGETHER. You encourage everyone to live healthier. Yes, that includes you - the one that makes the meals, serves the meals and buys the groceries.
That's my rant on nutrition for now because I can go on for ever. I hate to sound like we live this perfect life, like we never eat junk food or indulge in a most delicious ice cream or brownie cake. Oh we do. Trust me on that. We enjoy eating the food we like, but moderation must be taught and exercised, and as the parent I also encourage (enforce) portion control. There's a time and place for everything.
So now the kids are going back to school, we're done shopping for supplies they probably wont ever use and clothes they'll outgrow by the fall and the shoes they'll wear out before Christmas. Let's go shopping for the food they WILL consume at home and put your focus on those meals. If they eat at school for lunch, again, it's one meal of many. Think about it, the more you enforce healthy eating at home, the more likely they are to choose healthier meals at school. But if they don't, again, one of many meals in the day.