My preschooler eats things off the floor, kisses our dog directly on the lips, and plays her harmonica by jamming half of it in her mouth. (Pro tip: If she asks you to join her band, go with the drums.) And that’s just while she’s under my watchful eye. What in the world are our kids doing at school? I’m afraid to ask. But more importantly, how can we keep kids healthy during the school year, when we’re not there to drown them in sanitizer?
Keep Kids Healthy By Starting at Home
Keeping kids healthy in school actually starts at home. In fact, there are more things you can do at home to keep kids healthy in school, than things they can do at school!
- Provide a healthy, balanced diet. Cutting down on processed foods and increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins, can help to boost the body’s immune system. Struggling to break your kid’s chicken nugget addiction? Then check out our post, How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy | 9 Tricks to Win Over Your Tiny Humans, for a few practical ideas to get started!
- Keep them well hydrated. Proper hydration plays a huge role in keeping the immune system in tip-top shape. So make sure they’re drinking plenty of water and limiting juices and sodas. If allowed, send them to school with a reusable water bottle. This is one of my favorites, with over 30 different designs to match my preschooler’s over 30 different moods.
- Set an earlier bedtime. It’s gonna be darn near impossible to eat my secret snacks and watch The Walking Dead if my daughter is up and asking why dogs don’t use toilets. But getting plenty of sleep benefits your kids even more than your binge watching habits, because sleep is crucial to immune system function. In fact, losing even a few hours of sleep in one night can increase inflammation and interfere with your body’s ability to stay healthy.
- Get them moving! Regular exercise boosts immune system function, is fantastic for mental health, and decreases time spent in front of a screen. Bonus points for breathing in fresh air while they’re at it. Check out this post for a few ideas on how to get moving together as a family.
- Help them manage stress. Stress is incredibly effective at lowering the number and potency of infection-fighting cells in your body. Check out this post for some practical stress-management tips. Want to take a deeper dive on stress? Nab our free ebook to help you identify causes of stress, put short and long-term solutions into practice, and develop a low-stress mindset.
- Laugh together. Laughter might just really be the best medicine. It bolsters the immune system, decreases stress, and helps put things in perspective. So don’t be afraid to get silly with your kids!
- Consider a multivitamin. A lot of health experts insist you shouldn’t need a multivitamin if you’re eating a well-balanced diet. But not many of us actually are eating a perfect diet. Enter the multivitamin, to keep your immune system functioning at its best. I’ll always be a fan of whole food multivitamins. But they can get expensive fast! These highly-rated gummy vitamins are a great alternative, with 190 vitamins for under $9!
- Keep your house clean. I like to walk around with a Clorox wipe every few days, wiping down door knobs, light switches, and other germ-infested areas. Picking up as we go also helps me to find and eliminate mysterious sticky-slimeyness before it has a chance to sit and breed bacteria.
Keep Kids Healthy at School
After you’ve covered your bases at home, there are a few measures you can teach your kids to practice at school to avoid sickness.
- Teach them how and when to wash their hands. They should use soap and warm water, and wash as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. And don’t forget to use a paper towel to turn off the water and open the door! Hands should be washed after using the restroom, after recess, and before eating.
- Keep hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth. These are entry points for germs, so it’s important to avoid touching them whenever possible. Teaching your kids this, and then monitoring and correcting the behavior at home, will give them a better shot at carrying this habit through the school day.
- Teach them the Dracula cough. Kids, just like adults, should avoid coughing or sneezing into their hands. Instead, teach them to pull their “cape” across their face and sneeze into the crook of their arm. Bam! They’re a vampire. Throw in an “ah, ah, ah!” for good measure.
- Avoid sharing water bottles, food, or other personal items. This one’s a no-brainer. Sharing personal items is a fantastic way to share ickiness.
Wrap It Up
With just a few practical actions, we can help keep kids healthy in school. By encouraging healthy habits at home and at school, our kids can do even more than avoid sickness; they can enjoy the energy, focus, and positive attitude that come from being in excellent health. Now please excuse me while I sanitize the harmonica…
P.S. Need some simple after-school dinner ideas? Download our free ebook of 40 stupid easy recipes that will save you major time and effort, but keep that family happy!
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