Navigating Our Health: Five Back-to-School “Resolutions” to Improve your Family’s Health
As a mom with two small children, August means preparing for “back to school.” This means back-to-school shopping, determining after-school care for both kids, finalizing extra-curricular activities, trying to get everyone back on a schedule of going to bed early and waking up early…. All while trying to squeeze in a couple more weeks of fun and cross a few more things off the summer bucket list that we haven’t gotten to yet.
This year I will have a second grader and a preschooler. For the youngest, this will be his first year away from the daycare he has attended since he was three months old. It will also be his first experience riding a school bus to and from school. As I try to wrap my head around routines and schedules, it made me think: What are some things I would like to put in place this year to help us be healthier? With dance classes, flag football, and evening meetings, it can be difficult to keep up healthy habits.
With that being said, here are five back-to-school “resolutions” to help keep your family healthy. Good luck to all those Mommas and Daddies out there!
- Eat Dinner as a Family: This can be difficult with extra-curricular activities, but it is also so important. As a child, my mom did such a good job making sure we all sat together for dinner. It may have been grilled cheese and tomato soup siting at the kitchen bar after a basketball game, but she always tried to have us eat together as a family. This is such a great time to talk to your kids and see what is going on with them.
- Cut back on Electronics: In today’s world, we seem to be permanently attached to some sort of technology device. Whether it is your kid attached to their IPad watching YouTube videos of “How to make the best slime,” your teenager making ridiculous faces into their phone to post on SnapChat, or you and your spouse constantly checking emails, we are a world always connected. I challenge you to disconnect. Work on connecting with your family by talking, using eye contact, and maybe doing an activity such as playing a board game rather than a video game or reading a book instead of on your Kindle. It really may improve your mental health along with your eyesight!
- Take Time for Yourself: This is one I really struggle with, but I have promised myself to make it a top priority this year. As parents and especially moms, we give and give and forget to give to ourselves. Taking time for yourself can look different for everyone. It may be attending a yoga class, going for a jog, going out to dinner with friends, catching a movie by yourself, or just taking 20 minutes to take a bubble bath without any interruptions. Time alone allows for reflection, which is so important to stay balanced. I feel somewhat hypocritical as I write this, since I myself have failed at this so much in the past. Let’s hope this year I can succeed!
- Cut Back on Sugar: It is no surprise that sugar is not good for us. It is associated with obesity and diabetes. It can also be associated with behavioral problems in children. If your family is like mine, the amount of sugar that has been ingested this summer is absurd! From funnel cakes at the fair to ice cream at the Boardwalk, we have overindulged. For me, most of it has come in the form of Orange Crushes and Rose, but it is all still the same…. NOT HEALTHY. Work on cutting back on sugar and processed food. Focus on eating “real food” that is not made in a factory, such as fruits and veggies. Eat more lean protein such as fish and chicken. Cut back on fatty protein such as red meat. And let’s not forget to cut back on beverages that contain a ton of sugar. These include sodas, juices, and unfortunately most alcoholic drinks. Your waistline will thank you!
- Schedule a Visit to your Doctor: This time of year is a great time to make sure everyone has had their annual physical exam with their PCPs/pediatricians, their biannual cleaning with their dentist, and are up-to-date with an eye exam. For kids playing sports, they will need to have a sports physical completed within the year to participate. It is important for mom and dad to have yearly visits as well. Certain diseases such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia can occur without any symptoms and put you at risk for future medical problems. Make sure to take care of yourself. Having an annual physical is one way to do it!