Summer is over and school is back in session. That means day camp is a distant memory, and it’s back to early mornings, packing lunchboxes, and making sure homework gets done. Although we try to encourage our children to stay active and healthy during the school year, it can prove difficult when they don’t have easy access to fun activities at day camp or the ease of summer sports. But there are small adjustments you can make to ensure that your kids embrace fitness and good nutrition year-round. Here are three easy ways to make sure they have a healthy start to their school year:
- Make lunches healthy and fun
There’s nothing wrong with packing a sandwich in a brown paper bag, but having the same lunch every day can get boring. When kids buy their lunch at school, they get something new every day, but the choices aren’t usually as healthy as what you can pack for them from home. When packed lunches are colorful and eye-catching, your kids will eat with their eyes first — and then they’ll want to get those foods right in their tummies! Consider using bento boxes to pack each individual component: they make food look visually appealing, and they ensure everything is perfectly proportioned. They’re easy to fill with fruit, veggies, crackers, cheese, salads, sandwich halves, snacks, and treats.
- Get moving as a family
Fitness is often not a priority in today’s world, especially among our children: only one in three kids is physically active on a daily basis. If your kids attend day camp in the summertime, they usually get a fair amount of activity, but during the rest of the year, it’s up to the parents to encourage our children to get moving. When you make fitness a family effort, you get to spend quality time with your kids and encourage lifelong healthy habits. You can go on a family hike, ride your bikes around the neighborhood, rake leaves into piles (and jump in them!), or have an indoor dance party. Even household chores can be turned into fun and physical games.
- Eat dinner together
Studies have shown that family dinner time can foster everything from a strong vocabulary to making healthy choices. When you eat dinner together, you get a chance for uninterrupted quality time, and you’ll teach your kids to eat more wholesome foods. Children like the routine of spending dinnertime together, and it’ll benefit your own well-being, too; you can forget the stresses of your day and enjoy being together — while encouraging healthy eating.
When the scheduled activities of day camp aren’t an option throughout the year, it’s important to make fitness and nutrition something your kids will want to seek out. When you make physical activity and healthy choices a priority, both you and your children will feel energized, fulfilled, and ready to take on anything — which is the perfect way to start off a new school year.