The UK is starting to go back to school. And it's time to transition from the laid-back days of summer to the structured routine of the school term. This brings not only a change in schedules but also an opportunity to set healthy family habits. From spending time outdoors, to setting up routines and incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, here's a guide on how to prioritise your family’s health as your children go back to school.
Embrace Outdoor Time
This summer was hardly a scorcher. However, you’ve probably still spent quite a bit of time outdoors and your whole family will be reaping the benefits. Improving everything from mental wellbeing to heart health, even toddler-speed walks to the park can boost your family’s health.
As you go back to school, family life gets busier. And it can be tempting to put outdoor time on the backburner. Allocate outdoor time each day in your routine. Being outside encourages curiosity, creativity, and a stronger connection with nature.
Stick to Routines
Summer days are flexible and back to school is marked by structure and routine. As a result, your whole family may find the change in September challenging. To ease this transition, set up consistent sleep schedules now, with regular bedtimes and wake-up times. Consistency in sleep patterns supports better sleep quality. This, in turn, enhances mood, ability to think, and overall health.
Children also benefit from knowing what’s coming in their days, especially when a transition such as back to school is coming. As a result, setting a routine up for your days can help everyone understand what’s expected of them at different times. Block time out for things like meals, being outdoors, screen time and time when everyone helps out around the house.
Prioritise Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Aim to provide a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily family meals and snacks. These foods are essential sources of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that boost your child’s immune system and help them keep growing as they should. They’ll also help keep colds at bay as you head into autumn!
Encourage Physical Activity
Although children have PE and playtime built into their school days, they still spend a lot of their day sitting down. As children head back to school, find ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily family routine. Bonus points if it’s something you can have fun doing it together!
Organised sports, dancing, a kick about in the park, roller skating, or even some retro-cool skipping rope games, are all easy ways to get fun movement into your family’s day. If your school is within walking or biking distance, make that journey an active one so movement is just part of your life.
Limit Screen Time
Excessive screen time disrupts healthy habits. While technology has its place in education and entertainment, it's important to set limits on screen time. Establish rules around screen usage. That could include: no screens during meal times or a "tech-free" hour before bedtime. This builds healthier habits and also family bonding and in-person experiences.
Take Care of Mental Wellbeing
A successful back to school transition goes beyond physical health – it's important to address mental wellbeing as well. Talk openly with your child about the new school year to help alleviate anxieties. Encourage them to express any concerns or excitement they might have. However old your child is, there’s never a better time than right now to start this habit.
You can also introduce them to relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises to manage stress and build resilience.
Plan Easy, Healthy Family Meals
As you go back to school, timetables and time pressures can mean that family meals are neglected. However, there’s tons of research that shows family meal times have lots of benefits. These include improved connection, communication, mental wellbeing, trust and healthy eating habits. Aim to have at least three to four meals as a family each week, where everyone can share their experiences and enjoy healthy food.
As a parent, creating healthy family meals during the week can sometimes feel impossible. For inspiration, use our resources with ideas for quick, healthy meals that can be adapted for everyone in your family. Check out our articles on healthy lunches and dinner ideas under 450 calories, or head over the AmaraHealth™ app for lots more inspiration.
Set Your Family Up for the New School Year
As you gear up for your children going back to school, focusing on healthy habits can set the stage for a successful and fulfilling school year. Setting your priorities for a healthy school year will empower your children to thrive both academically and in their overall health. Remember: small changes lead to big improvements in the long run, creating a foundation for lifelong wellness.
If you need support with healthy family habits, get in touch with our Children’s Lifestyle Service and see how we can help you.