It’s that time of year again, the time when kids are going back to school and parents are helping with homework and getting them to practice on time. While every family is excitedly starting their new school year, it is a good time to pay attention to your health habits, as well. In all of the hustle and bustle, is your family doing what they need to keep away the common cold and annual flu?
Concho Valley ER is here to give you 5 of our top everyday health tips for the back-to-school season. Starting some of these healthy habits can keep both you and your kids energetic and sniffle-free all fall.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The path for every day is decided when we wake up in the morning. Kids can have a great, productive day at school or a sluggish and long one, all depending on how much sleep they’re getting. As children grow and develop, their bodies need lots of rest, so ensuring that they are getting enough sleep can be a good way to make sure they are prepared not only for school but also in good health.
Sleeping is when your body gets to rest and take an evaluation of itself. A body’s immune system can work faster and more effectively when you are asleep, and when someone lacks enough sleep, their body does not produce enough infection-fighting antibodies. Sleep, for parents and kids alike, can become the foundation of good health.
For children, 8 hours are recommended, at least, but some kids might need a bit of extra sleep. Growing bodies need a lot of energy, and nap-time isn’t only for preschoolers. Even older children, like middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, might benefit from an after-school nap, especially if they want to stay up later at night. An extra 30-minutes before soccer practice or after debate team might be the perfect way to help your child balance their need for developmental sleep while still having time to get involved in school activities.
Eating Balanced Meals
After waking up from your newly balanced sleep schedule, feeling as refreshed as ever, it is time for breakfast. Parents might be rushing off to work while kids are rushing off to school, and sometimes it can be hard to find time for a proper breakfast, nonetheless packing a good lunch. This is when meal-planning can be very helpful and if the whole family gets involved, it can be quite fun as well!
Breakfasts need to provide a burst of energy and flavor to give everyone a good start to their day. Yummy whole-grain toast or oatmeal can be good ways to give your children a pep in their step, and if you pair it with fresh fruit, you can get some extra vitamins in for the day. For easy breakfast options, overnight oats are very simple make-ahead breakfasts or try scrambled eggs for a fast and fresh warm meal.
Lunches take a bit more preparation. You’ll want to make sure your child has a proper lunch box and a cold-pack to keep their food fresh throughout the day. Lunchtime can be snack time for a lot of children, so talk to your kids about their lunches. See what they want to eat during the day and find healthy compromises. Packing vegetables and fruit is always good and high-protein choices are also good meals for the middle of the day. Instead of processed lunch meat, you can try getting a roasted chicken from the local grocery store and turning that fresh chicken into some delicious sandwiches for your child during the week.
Getting a well-balanced breakfast will give your child the energy and fuel to get them through their day. Including produce in every meal will give your kids a boost in vitamin C to keep their immune systems strong throughout the school year. These little boosts will help your children to overcome the common cold and more severe infections throughout the year.
Washing Your Hands
One of the biggest ways that infections are spread is through our hands. We eat and drink with our hands, which means that anything we touch throughout the day can make its way into our body when we have a meal, open a soda, or even scratch an itch near our eye. Luckily, this risk of infection is very easy to minimize.
Washing your hands after you use the bathroom and before you eat is the best way to keep any bacteria or viruses away. Teach your children to wash their hands regularly, with soap and warm water, and they will naturally be able to keep themselves safe from many everyday illnesses. This healthy habit can best be learned at home, so if your family doesn’t already practice meal-time handwashing, this could be a good habit for everyone.
The Dreaded Lice
If you are a parent with young children, then you might worry about lice outbreaks. They strike any time during the year and are notorious for jumping from kid to kid, plaguing many elementary schools with itchy scalps. While there are plenty of special hair products that help to eliminate lice, these shampoo and conditioner treatments can be tedious and difficult for younger children to manage.
There are no FDA-tested methods to keep lice away. They are, unfortunately, something that is always a risk. But with some basic precautionary measures, your child can reduce their risk of getting headlice.
Sharing scarves, hats, hair ties, clips, and anything else that can attach to a child’s hair is one way that lice spread through classrooms. Friends might want to share their favorite hat or lend a scarf to someone when the weather is cold, but sometimes this can spread lice. The same risk is there when kids braid one another’s hair or play dress-up together. The contact could spread lice if a child has encountered them. This doesn’t mean that your child should be discouraged from playing or sharing with their friends and classmates, but it does mean that parents should be aware of. Teach your children to be aware too! If kids know to wash their hair regularly and know how to look for lice, they will be better equipped to avoid them.
School starting means that the annual flu season is just around the corner. Autumn is usually when flu cases begin to rise, and the seasonal flu shots are released to doctor’s offices and local pharmacies around the country. While the flu is treatable and your child may never contract it, getting flu shots for children is still a wise choice to keep them safe.
Last year’s flu season was severe because the flu virus adapted in a way that made it harder to vaccinate for. But every year, medical professionals are making a newer and stronger vaccine to fight against the flu. Since children spend most of their days in school, surrounded by other kids and teachers, their chances of getting sick are higher. The flu is at an increased risk for younger kids, and it can be more severe of a virus in younger children as well. If you are worried about your child getting sick during the flu season, then talk with your pediatrician about getting a flu shot. Make an appointment to get the shot early, to make sure that supplies do not run out before your child is vaccinated.
As the school year begins, parents and kids can both make sure to engage in healthy habits every day. From getting a good night’s sleep to remembering to wash your hands, many of the most effective health precautions aren’t that hard to integrate into your home. Concho Valley ER is here to support all students starting new grades and all parents getting them to school on time. In the case of any medical emergencies, our ER is available 24/7 with concierge-level care for all ages, kids and babies included.