Tips for Keeping Children Happy and Healthy through the Holidays!
Keeping healthy habits during the busy holiday season can be difficult, and routines and priorities can easily be interrupted. Planning ahead and having strategies in place to accommodate for an extra busy schedule will help your family stay true to your daily healthy habits. Here are some tips for making good food choices, incorporating physical fitness, and getting an appropriate amount of rest during this hectic time of year.
Plan your meals, at home or on the road!
Having your meals planned out in advance will help you avoid last minute take out. Why not include your child in creating a calendar to plan your family’s breakfast, lunch and dinner schedule? Have fun with planning together and take advantage of the opportunity for life lessons. Ask your child to help you make the grocery list and ask questions like “What is a healthy side dish we can add to this meal?” or “What fruit do you think we should add to this meal?” Asking for your child’s opinion on the menu will not only give them a better understanding of the planning process, but it will increase their excitement when it comes time to prepare the meal or eat with the family.
In addition to meal planning, pack healthy snacks and drinks to take on the go! Not only will this eliminate falling into a routine of buying unhealthy snacks purely for convenience on the go, but it will save you from an additional expense. Dried fruits, veggies and dip, applesauce pouches, granola bars, or yogurt are all great options to take with you on the run.
Finding time to keep active during the holiday season can be challenging. How can you get in the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day for your child when you are on the go, or the weather outside is less than cooperative? While most children are innately active, other children need encouragement to participate in activities that will stimulate cardiovascular health.
Ask your kids to think of creative ways to keep active indoors, and round up a list ways your family can still incorporate physical activities in their day. Setting goals, and finding fun ways to get there, is a great approach. Create a progress chart for the family to check off after each work out, and set a goal for a family reward. Have a “Simon says” marathon, setup an indoor hop scotch area, or see who can do the most jumping jacks.
Another easy way to stay fit is to have your children plan a family dance party—they’ll have a blast choosing the dance theme and the play list. You can even see who comes up with the most creative dance moves in the family!
When you are on the go, remember to take advantage of the extra steps by not searching for the closest parking spot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Maintain a good sleep schedule!
Ensuring that your family is getting enough rest and maintaining your child’s sleep routine, especially during the holidays, can be challenging! Rest and sleep is one of the most important aspects to health and fitness. Napping up to the age of five is a good guideline and getting ten to twelve hours of sleep at night is needed to reset the body. Try to plan your holiday errands and visits around your child’s naps and bed times. Have a cut off time in place before shopping or visiting to allow time for packing up, the drive home, and your normal bedtime routine. If your child typically falls asleep in the car, change your child into pajamas before you head home.
The best method for encouraging your child to sleep is setting a routine, such as reading together or bath time before bed. If it’s not likely that your family will be at your home at normal bedtime hours or if you are traveling over the holidays, have alternate sleeping arrangements in place. Take your child’s bedtime necessities with you to stay as close to routine as possible, such as your child’s favorite books, blankets, pillow and bath accessories.
Think of ways that you can implement these important needs to keep your kids & your holidays happy and healthy!