Establishing A Healthy Summer Routine For Your Kids
by Anya Willis (guest contributor)
It’s easy for children to let themselves go a bit during the summer. When their regular routine based around school is no longer there, all those good habits you have helped them develop can disappear as well. It’s OK to let them slip to some extent - who wouldn’t - but you should at least be making sure they are getting plenty of water, healthy food and a good night’s sleep. Combine this with a useful and fulfilling activity like community service, and you have a recipe for a healthy, productive summer that still allows the kids to unwind and reboot.
You should make sure that each child has a reusable water bottle they can fill up when they need it. If you’re worried about your local tap water, invest in a high-quality water filter and teach your older children to refill it. According to The Guardian, our over-reliance on disposable plastic bottles is as bad for the environment as climate change.
You can also leave frozen fruit in the freezer so they can make themselves a refreshing, fruity glass of water whenever they want one. This blog post explains the best step-by-step way to do this.
Prepare batches of healthy meals ahead of time so they can easily heat them up for lunch: these big batch summer recipes by The Kitchn should give you some inspiration. When you are prepping and cooking these, get your kids to observe and participate. By the end of the summer, you may be able to leave them with a few ingredients so they can put something together by themselves.
Of course, you should also limit the amount of snacks you buy for the house, as they will be tempted to eat these instead. This doesn’t have to mean a summer without delicious frozen treats, however. Here are 24 recipes for healthy ice cream pops that the kids will love.
Many parents are faced with the question of whether to let their child stay up late and sleep in during the summer. The fact is, it can be harmless to let them shift their sleep schedule by a few hours, but doing this makes it harder for them to re-adjust when school starts. Be flexible and allow for some later bedtimes and morning alarms, but keep an eye out for dramatic sleep schedules (e.g.: staying up all night and sleeping all morning) and don’t allow these to become a habit.
If your child is sleeping plenty, but still waking up groggy, they may not be getting quality sleep. Assess your children’s sleep environment, including the age of their mattress. If the mattress is 7 to 10 years old, it's likely time to replace it. Scour online guides to help you get a better idea of what to purchase as a replacement for any sagging, old and worn out mattresses in your home.
Getting Them Involved
Every child gets excited at the prospect of not doing anything for several months, and most of them eventually regret it when they get bored. Many parents opt to send their kids to educational summer camps, which can be an excellent option if you can afford it.
If your children don’t like the idea of camp, you can sign up your children for a local community project. This gives your children an opportunity to get out of the house, meet new people and help out within their community. Furthermore, studies have shown that teens who engage in voluntary or community-led work are less likely to use drugs or become pregnant and develop a strong work ethic and leadership skills later in adult life.
Ultimately, it is important to have some sense of perspective when planning your children’s summer. They should have plenty of time to relax, as school can be stressful. However, kids are not always the best decision-makers when left entirely to their own devices. Nudge them gently in the right direction, while giving them enough space and independence to learn healthy habits by themselves, and you may find your child wraps up the summer a more mature, responsible person.