Preparing for a Healthy (and Happy!) Back-to-School Season

It’s back-to-school time! School buses will soon be meandering through our neighborhoods. Kids with new backpacks, full of all those school supplies we’ve been searching for, will finally see their school friends again. School-related activities will be back on our calendars, and parents and kids will be excited (in most cases!) for all the new experiences and growth that come with a new school year.

We probably have a long to-do list to get kids ready to return to school, right? At the top of your to-do list is probably something like, “Prepare the kids for a healthy & happy school year.” We all want our kids to be as healthy and happy as possible, so how can we accomplish this all-important goal for the new school year?

Here are 7 tips to get both you and the kids on the right foot when they step out the door for that first day of school.

Tip #1. Help kids adjust to an earlier bedtime. Of all the tips we’re sharing, this one is definitely #1 since sleep can affect our kids’ lives in so many ways—both negative and positive. Depending on kids’ ages, they need anywhere from 8-12 hours of sleep a night, and in the summertime, where schedules are usually more relaxed and wake-up times can be more flexible, getting enough sleep isn’t so much of a problem. But throw in school start times, some as early as 7AM in many districts, 😱 and those late nights of summertime fun just won’t work once school begins. The key here is to gradually introduce an earlier bedtime so the kids won’t rebel and so they’ll embrace and get used to an earlier bedtime easier. If possible, begin two weeks before school starts and start with putting the kids to bed 15 minutes earlier at a time until you reach the ideal time for bed.

To get even more sleep tips for kids, go here.

Tip #2. Meal plan + meal prep ahead of time. Back-to-school time can be crazy busy, and the last thing anyone wants to figure out is what to eat. So make it a priority to take a few minutes each week to plan all the meals, get the groceries for the week (take advantage of pick-up or delivery services!), and make nutritious breakfasts as effortless as possible (if the kids can fix their own breakfasts, that’s a win!). Prep any foods ahead of time. Keep the hangry-ness at bay - for both you and the kids, and everyone will enjoy life much more.

We’re sharing seven awesome time-saving meal prep hacks here!

Tip #3. Have healthy snacks readily available. This tip goes along with #2, but it’s key to a healthy and happy school year. Kids do not follow the same snack schedule. They just don’t! It can take unnecessary time and effort to be the snack preparer, distributor, and monitor for the family, so make things easier by having healthy snacks readily available. Utilize pre-cut fruits and vegetables, place healthy snacks where kids can help themselves, and teach the kids about what makes a snack healthy and why healthy snacks are best.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming #Cool4SchoolSnackin series! You’re going to love it!

Tip #4. Monitor screen time. Kids use screens, and that’s a fact of life. A 2019 study found that teens averaged 7+ hours of screen time a day, and kids ages 8-12 averaged 4+ hours a day. Of course, this study was pre-COVID, and we all know how COVID affected screen time for kids, right?! But...just as with adults, screen time can become addictive for kids, and too much time spent staring at a screen can negatively affect them; including their mental health, productivity, relationships, and self-esteem. Decide as a family what is appropriate for screen time. If you find extra screen time is a common request, some families have kids earn their screen time! Burpees or reading for more screen time, anyone?

Tip #5. Encourage hydration by letting kids choose their own reusable water bottles. Hydration is essential for both adults and kids, and maybe even more so for kids. When kids are even 2% dehydrated, their focus and concentration can be affected, which is especially problematic during school and homework time. So, make it a priority to let kids choose a reusable water bottle they will be excited about using, and then encourage them to drink up! You can even get some fun stickers to make their water bottle unique!

Looking for some cute and effective (non-leak!) water bottles? Check these out!

  • Takeya Kids Stainless Water Bottle with Straw Lid, 14 Ounce

  • Zulu Atlas Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve

  • Hydro Flask 12 oz Kids Wide Mouth Straw Lid

  • CamelBak eddy Kids BPA Free Water Bottle

Learn more about the importance of hydration for kids here.

Tip #6. Create a routine that includes exercise and quality time. Routines help everyone feel more settled and less anxious because we all know what’s on the schedule. And when creating your school year routine, don’t forget to include movement and quality time. Movement is important for kids, both physically and mentally, and exercise doesn’t have to be an organized sport to count. The important thing is just to move, and it’s even more fun when the kids can choose what they want to do. Kids can be so creative! And don’t forget to include yourself in the kids’ movement time. Adults need to move their bodies just as much as the kids do! 😉

Get some ideas for making exercise time fun here!

Quality time is also essential for healthy kids, so avoid the temptation to overschedule them with all the seemingly endless activities that are available and make sure they have some blocks of time in their days when they can just be kids and do whatever they want to do. This time will refill their buckets, teach them the importance of self-care, help them be better students, teach them to prioritize their own wants and priorities, and boost their health and happiness!

Tip #7. Take care of yourself. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others, especially your kids. Plain and simple. It’s like the oxygen mask instructions you get every time you fly on an airplane: Put on your own oxygen mask first, then help others around you. It’s crucial to make self-care a priority, especially during the school year, so when you’re creating that school year routine, make sure to block out some self-care time—even if it’s for just a few minutes at a time, so you can best serve those you love year-round.

Back-to-school time can be full of many feelings; excitement, overwhelm, nervousness, happiness, anticipation, and so many other emotions for both parents and kids. The best way to ensure a healthy and happy school year is to prepare ahead of time and then stay as consistent as possible throughout the year.

We hope these 7 tips will get you well on your way to enjoying the healthiest and happiest school year ever for everyone!

All of the products recommended here are hand-curated by us and are things we have used and swear by! Please note that we may earn fees from qualifying purchases as part of the Amazon Associates program.

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