With school out, parents really need to focus on planning a healthy summer routine for kids. Without thinking about it, summer can quickly fly by with endless activities and things to do. Before you know it, your kids can be out of school and back to school in a blink of an eye. Since summer flies by so quickly, parents really need to think and plan ahead if you want your kids to stay on a healthy schedule.
As any pediatrician will tell you, living healthy matters a lot. Unfortunately, healthy living doesn’t come naturally to any of us. Simply taking precautions to maintain a healthy routine, though, can help to prevent disease such as the flu as well as assist in overall development. Nonetheless, as our culture and society becomes more fast paced and fast food-centric, traditional understandings of “healthy” lifestyles become more and more rare. When it comes to your kids, though, parents really need to slow things down and make healthy living a priority.
Since summertime acts as a break from many things in life, parents should work harder during these months to keep a healthy lifestyle in focus. In this post, we want to talk through five key ingredients for building a healthy summer routine for kids. Living healthy involves more than just one area of your life. Read through the different key ingredients outlined below to see how each area impacts living a healthy lifestyle.
Key Ingredient #1 – Schedule
Finding a healthy summer routine for kids starts with planning out your schedule. Schedules provide a regular rhythm and consistency in a child’s life. These things are necessary to help kids feel safe and help them stay out of negative or repetitive behaviors. During the school year, the school day provides the structure and schedule. With summer break, though, that structure goes away.
During the summertime, you as the parent need to help provide the regular schedule that your child really needs. The younger the child, the more important regular and consistent structure are for providing self-discipline and development later in life. After all, none of us should simply be allowed to just do as we feel with our day. We need discipline and accountability.
With the summer, you should think about having a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. For the daily schedule focus on developing consistent blocks of activity that your child needs each day. For instance, build in regular amounts of play or exercise. Also, make sure you have consistent and regular times for eating meals and going to sleep. Next, for weekly schedules, make sure to fit in regular times during the week for more occasional activities. These could include things like weekly chores or weekly trips to the library. Finally, for monthly schedules, include larger activities that you want to plan out well in advance. These could include things like summer vacation plans.
After you have your schedules planned out, sit down with your child to go over them. Your child needs to know the plans in advance so that they know what to expect. You can then refer back to the schedules daily and weekly and make sure you’re staying on track.
Key Ingredient #2 – Diet
Secondly, a healthy summer routine for kids depends on maintaining a healthy diet. During the school year, your child’s school might help with a healthy diet with school lunches. When school gets out, though, many times our eating times get off course. Not only that, but with summer being a break, we also sometimes allow for greater liberties in what our kids might regularly eat. Occasional treats are fine, but we need to remember that healthy diets are much more important to the overall development of our children.
When summer hits, you need to be ready with a comprehensive healthy diet plan for your kids. This means covering all parts of your child’s day including breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. While you don’t have to map out every single summer meal before summer holiday starts, you want to have a general idea of what most of those meals may look like. Ideally, you could then sit down and plan out a week’s worth of meals at a time, updating as the summer progresses.
To get a head start on summer dieting, you should take the end of summer as a great opportunity for a refrigerator and pantry cleanse. Go through the food you have at home and get rid of all the unhealthy processed options. After tossing out the unhealthy foods, next replace them with healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other healthy alternatives.
After you complete your cleanse, start thinking of creative healthy meal ideas. Kids many times don’t want to eat healthy foods because they look and taste unappealing. By thinking creatively, though, you can make almost any food idea fresh and exciting. For creative healthy meal and snack ideas, check out the suggestions at this link or in this article.
Key Ingredient #3 – Bedtime
Thirdly, a healthy summer routine for kids must involve a mostly consistent sleep routine. This means that your child has a regular habit of when they start to prepare to go to bed and how they prepare to go to bed. Sleep plays a vital role in your child’s development no matter their age. While our society increasingly puts less and less emphasis on sleep, we, as parents, need to steer our children in the opposite direction. We need to teach them that getting regular sleep is very important for their overall health.
When summer starts, you need to sit down with your child to go over what their summer time sleep routine will look like. First, determine a set time that they must be in bed by. You might set this a little later than their regular time during the school year. After you have that time set, next set rules for when they have to turn off electronics before bed. Ideally, these should go off at least two hours before they go to sleep.
After you have times set, next make sure to put your routine in place. Help your child start to get ready for bed at about the same time each night. Also, you need to help ensure their bedroom sets up the right environment for sleep. Make sure the room is dark and at a temperature to encourage sleep.
Do your best to stick to your bedtime routine during the summer months. While you will have to break your routine for vacations, try to keep to your schedule outside of those interruptions. Keeping to a set routine will help with maintaining your child’s overall health and will help with transitioning back to a school based routine during the year.
Key Ingredient #4 – Electronics
Speaking of electronics before bed, we next need to cover electronics in general as part of your healthy summer routine for kids. Our culture becomes more and more enamored with electronics every year. Every year, too, our kids get more and more electronics and spend more time in front of screens. From video games to TV to tablets and phones and even watches, our kids have screens everywhere. For the sake of everyone, we as parents need to help our children structure their schedules to limit electronics as much as possible.
As part of your child’s summer routine, you need to sit down and decide appropriate amounts of electronics usage. A good approach to take might be setting daily limits on different types of electronics. For example, you could possibly limit watching TV each day to no more than an hour. Video games then, you might limit to two separate 30 minute blocks of time. You might also say that your kids can only use their cell phones for a limited period in the morning and again at night.
Next, after you have set limits, you need to give your children ideas for appropriate substitutes in place of electronics usage. You should try to encourage activities that engage your child’s mind and body in more creative ways. Some ideas for alternative play could include reading different books or painting or drawing. You can also encourage playing outside with friends or going places such as to the park or to the mall.
Key Ingredient #5 – Getting Active
Finally, as a last part of your healthy summer routine for kids, you need to make sure your kids get active. As we just talked about, too many kids spend too much time sitting in front of electronics. Even without electronics, our lives have become far too sedentary. This inactivity has led to increases in rates of obesity, diabetes, and depression among other health issues. Simply put, our bodies were designed to be active. When we don’t get the activity we need our health suffers as a result.
The need to get moving is possibly even more important for kids than adults. Children’s minds and bodies are still developing. They need exercise to help with regular muscle growth and overall development. Furthermore, physical activity helps to spark and encourage healthy brain activity and development.
At a minimum, you should encourage your child to get active for at least 60 minutes a day. You can break this time up into 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening if that makes it easier. Whatever you do, though, you need to make sure they get moving.
As a way of encouraging them, you should join them in a regular activity. Think of something creative and fun for the family to do and put it into action. Perhaps you can get a volleyball net and play volleyball in the backyard. Alternatively, you can go roller skating or bike riding.
Think of fun ways to get active and keep encouraging your kids to do more physical activities. After a while, your kids will get so into it, you won’t have to do much encouraging. For more ideas on getting kids active during the summer check out the suggestions at this link.
Thinking Outside the Box for a Healthy Summer Routine for Kids
Living a healthy active lifestyle takes planning and will power. As we’ve said, no one accidentally stumbles into eating healthy and staying active. No matter who they may be, they have to work at it and stay on top of things to keep their bodies and minds healthy.
The same truths apply for your kids. Your kids simply won’t stumble into a healthy summer. To make sure the summer months aren’t wasted, you as the parent have to help put in place a fun healthy summer routine for kids.
To make summer a positive healthy experience, you need to plan ahead and think outside of the box. After all, your kids have a lot of options of things to turn to to fill their time. You don’t want them to hate the idea of eating and living healthy. Instead, you want them to feel excited about it.
Before summer starts, sit down and think through the different ingredients of a healthy summer routine for kids that we just discussed. In each area, look for ideas and resources for engaging kids specifically. Use creativity and imagination to lock your kids in. Once your kids see healthy options as fun options, you won’t have to worry about trying to convince them anymore. Use the suggestions and ideas in this post as a place to start. From that point, launch off into creating a fun, engaging, and healthy summer plan.