Back to school season brings a big shift in daily life for families with school-aged children and re-establishing a routine will help keep everyone in your house happy and healthy! There are two major aspects of a healthy routine for both parents and children that we will cover in this post: sleep and nutrition. These are two areas that can often be pushed to the back burner on those crazy, busy school nights, but they are essential to avoid burnout and illness.
We all know that sleep is important, but do you know that children and adults need varying amounts of sleep to function at their best? The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep duration based on age:
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
- School-aged children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
- Adults (18-64 years): 7-9 hours
With these recommended sleep lengths in mind, you should set bedtimes for you and your children on what time you need to wake up in the morning. For example, if you need to leave the house by 7:30am and know it will take at least I hour to get your family fed and out the door, then your wake-up time is 6:30am and your bedtime should be between 9:30 and 11:30pm. For your kids, add in the additional hours of recommended sleep and make sure they are in bed early enough to get those hours! Parents.com offers some great tips to help create and stick to a bedtime routine for your kids.
Making healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you are a busy parent might feel impossible to accomplish, but it can be done! Setting aside time on the weekends to plan and prepare meals for the week is a must when you want to fuel your family with proper nutrition. To make mealtimes as stress free as possible we recommend the following:
- Keep breakfast easy. Mornings are typically crammed for time, so don’t plan on making breakfast every day because you will likely not have the time. Try recipes that you can make ahead of time and eat throughout the week, and find some go-to options that you can whip up in a few minutes (i.e., smoothies, scrambled eggs, etc.).
- Set a menu. An essential piece of meal planning is creating a menu based on your weekly schedule. On evenings when you only have 1-hour to cook and eat, plan your simplest recipe to avoid last minute calls for pizza delivery.
- Make more than you need. Using dinner leftovers for your lunch the next day is the perfect way to avoid extra time in the kitchen!
- Prep on Sunday. Pre-cooking aspects of your mid-week meals on Sunday will save you a ton of time! If you are using chicken in multiple meals that week, cook all that you will need on Sunday and have it ready to go during the week.
Add these tips to your back-to-school schedule to enjoy more free time and better sleep for the entire family!