Guest Post: Back-to-School: Establishing and Maintaining Healthy Routines That Will Stick


Back-to-school means early morning wake-up calls and a mad rush to get everyone ready and out the door in time. Too often, this means a quick but less-than-healthy breakfast, or worse, no breakfast at all. From getting enough rest to waking up in time to have a healthy breakfast, making good dietary choices at breakfast and lunch, and taking care of personal health and hygiene, there are many factors that don’t directly relate to school that have a tremendous impact on how well your children function during the day. While healthy behaviors have a big impact on focus, attitude, and more, kids don’t often decide to do these things on their own. It’s up to parents to help their children establish healthy routines that stick all year long. Here are a few important healthy routines to cultivate now for year-long success. 

Adequate Sleep is a Must 
 Making sure your kids get to bed at a reasonable time is one of the most important things you can do to boost their chances for success.

During the first weeks back at school, try to enforce a solid bedtime routine, even on the weekends, to help everyone adjust. School-age children need the most sleep, and inadequate sleep can lead to irritability, concentration problems, and distraction – none of which you want your kids to experience during the school day.Remember Daily Teeth Brushing and Flossing are Key to Health 
Brushing their teeth isn’t a favorite activity for most children, and you may as well just forget flossing altogether. Or should you? To avoid cavities, which often form between teeth where food particles stick and are hard to remove with brushing alone, flossing is essential. Lead by example; be sure to floss and brush your own teeth every morning following breakfast, and your kids will be more likely to participate, too.

You can also encourage your kids to brush and floss by letting them choose their own fun toothbrush in their favorite colors or featuring their favorite character. Floss also comes in kid-friendly options, with easy-to-use, brightly colored floss picks in just the right size. Why is dental hygiene so important for school? It’s simple: Dental health is tied to overall health, so the choices made today can impact health throughout life.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast (and Lunch) 
Breakfast provides the fuel that gives your kids energy to get through the day. In addition to fueling the body, food also fuels the brain. Skipping breakfast denies the body of essential vitamins and minerals and can leave kids feeling sluggish and unable to focus, particularly in the afternoon hours.

Finding the time to have breakfast at all is a feat in many families, but making sure that everyone is making healthy breakfast choices can seem like an impossibility. Stock up on quick-but-healthy breakfast items like fruit, yogurt, granola, oatmeal, and more. If you have the time, making a healthy breakfast such as eggs and whole wheat toast provides kids with protein and other essentials to help them tackle their day. Or, try some make-ahead breakfast ideas that you can prep the evening before (or even a week in advance).

Breakfast isn’t the only meal of the day, however. If your kids buy the school lunch, your options are limited to what the school is offering that day – which, most of the time, is a balanced meal. School lunches don’t exactly have a top-notch reputation, but many schools are making efforts to improve.

If your kids pack lunch, you have more control over what they’re putting in their bodies, provided they actually eat it. Aim for simple-but-healthy options like apples, squeezable yogurt or apple sauce, trail mix, or tortilla roll-ups (with cheese and pepperoni for a pizza flavor or another favorite protein).

Don’t forget about your four-legged family members
As school and afterschool activities take over, it can be easy to overlook Fido. And after a summer of running and playing with the kids, he might start to feel a little left out as everyone’s attention gets re-focused on other things. To make sure your four-legged loved ones continue to get the attention the need, you might hire someone to help with dog walking through a company like Rover to keep him busy while you get everyone’s school year ducks in a row. Or if there is a doggie daycare facility in your area, you could drop him off a couple of days a week so that he can run and play the day away.

To tie these healthy routines together, make fun checklists to remind your children of their morning chores and prep lunches and other essentials ahead of time when possible. When you establish healthy routines and make them easy to follow, they become lifetime habits that will serve your children well throughout life.

About the author: Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.

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