By Lisa Hageman, RN
Preventive Medicine Initiative Manager
For parents, back-to-school is a great time to establish new routines and refocus on healthy habits early in the year.
All kids can start the day right with a healthy breakfast that will provide them with needed fuel and energy. It’s important to include a protein in their breakfast that can help them get through until lunch. Try to limit empty carbs found in most prepackaged snacks and sugar-laden cereals.
Send your kids off to school well-hydrated. Pack a refillable water bottle that they can use throughout the day. Be cautious of sports drinks as they have a high sugar content and are really only needed during extended vigorous exercise.
With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s important to make time whenever possible for physical activity. This can be formal sports programs or just playing in the yard. When my kids were in school, our family had a one-sport rule. We let our kids choose the sport, but they had to commit to that sport for the year. This commitment had an incredibly positive impact, not only physically but socially.
Besides after-school activity, sleep is critically important for children’s mental and physical development. The right amount of sleep allows children to better focus throughout the school day. Establishing a consistent routine and limiting screen time before bed can be a big help.
As the Backus Community Health Nurse, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that back-to-school means back to germs. The majority of germs enter your body through the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth, referred to as the T-Zone. Good hand hygiene is the one of the best ways to keep your kids healthy and in school.
Have a great school year.
Lisa Hageman is Preventive Medicine Initiative Manager at Backus Hospital in Norwich.