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August 18, 2017
It’s that time of year again. The kids are back at school and so begins the juggle of hurried mornings, carpool schedules, sports practice, music lessons and homework. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
That’s why the American Heart Association urges parents to make a fresh, healthy start this school year by focusing on quality not quantity. Making small adjustments and prioritizing what is most important can have a significant impact on your family’s health and well-being.
Get Enough Sleep
For starters, children perform better at school when they’ve had sufficient rest. Think of sleep as the foundation for a healthy day. Make sure everyone in your household gets at least eight hours a night.
According Bobbi Hopkins, M.D., Medical Director of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital sleep center, the average 10 –year-old requires ten hours of sleep in order to maintain optimum health.
Kids need to burn off steam after school. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity every day.
Kids are more likely to succeed when their parents lead by example, so consider making a brisk walk or bike ride a week night ritual with your family. So long as your workout makes you breathe harder and sweat, you’ll be helping your family get the exercise they need to maintain a healthy heart.
Plan Your Menu
Some nights pizza delivery or a visit to the drive through is the most a busy mom can muster. Yet, it’s easy to become reliant on fast foods that undermine your family’s health. The more time you can spend meal planning and cooking ahead on weekends, the less likely you are to rely on quick options that lack the good nutritional value your family deserves.
“Healthy meals don’t have to be fancy meals,” said Raquel G. Hernandez, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Office of Medical Education at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “Focus on serving up a colorful plate that features fresh fruits and vegetables and a lean protein. Choose my Plate is also an excellent resource to help busy parents plan healthy meals children will enjoy.”
Even healthy foods should be served in child-sized portions. Dr. Hernandez recommends the following website to help parents identify the correct serving sizes for their growing their children: https://www.childrens.com/keeping-families-healthy/family-blog/category/food-fitness/recommended-serving-size-by-age
Ask for Help
Time is our most valuable commodity. Consider auditing your week by logging each of your activities and the time dedicated to each. See if you can identify tasks—even small chores—you can delegate to your family that will allow you more free time to rest, exercise and enjoy your children.
Simplify Your Schedule
There’s no award for busiest mom. Feeling like you’re constantly on the go is draining and not sustainable in the long term. Take a hard look at your family’s schedule and prioritize activities that matter most. By letting go of activities that cause stress and headaches, you’ll gain needed time and energy.
Take it One Step at a Time
Change doesn’t happen all at once. Start by taking small steps to find better balance while prioritizing your family’s health. Set goals and celebrate progress. Focus on what’s most important to you to enjoy a more productive and fulfilling school year.