For many families with school-age children, this September looks a little different than Septembers past. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the school year and the winter months to come, it’s hard for children (and adults) to settle into a solid, secure-feeling routine.
Whether your kids are learning at home, learning in school, or following some kind of hybrid model, one of the best ways to create routine is around meal times. Now, this doesn’t just apply to the kiddos. If there is anything we adults learned during quarantine remote work it’s that maintaining a healthy routine at home is hard – especially when your office is steps from the place you eat, the place you sleep, the place you (try to) exercise, and the place you unwind.
To help, we pulled together some tips for building healthy routines amidst back-to-school chaos. In this article, we focus on healthy eating. Read Part II for more tips. And, again, these don’t just apply to kids and teens. If you’re struggling with working from home, these tips are for you too.
Healthy eating at home
We need to be honest: This one is tough. We might be eating out less these days but that doesn’t mean that eating healthy is easier. Some of us are feeling exhausted and uninspired in the kitchen after months of cooking at home but now is not the time to buy all the cookies and packaged snacks. Our little ones need nutrient-dense foods to stay focused and energized.
1. Stock up on healthy snacks
Remember those post-lunch crashes? The ones that happen after you decide to have dessert at lunch or when you chose the pasta bowl instead of the buddha bowl? Buying boxes of pre-packaged snack foods or lunches might be easier at first but will likely cause sugar crashes and make virtual learning even harder for your kiddos. Choose fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, yogurts, and rice cakes – think energizing snacks over sugary snacks.
2. Do the prep work
It’s not enough just to buy fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Make sure these foods are in plain sight and prepped the way your kids like to enjoy them – this goes for your snacks, too! Make trail mixes, pack veggies with a portion of hummus, peel and chop fruit, prep little nut butter sandwiches… whatever your kids like. Having these snacks ready during the week will help you dodge those hangry, energy crashes we all dread.
Here are some 8fit snacks that kids love:
Apple “Sandwich” Snack
Red Ants on a Log
Peanut Butter Banana Cookie
Sweet potato toast with Nutella and banana
3. Pack lunch
Even if you aren’t going anywhere, pack lunches at the beginning of the week or the night before. There have been plenty of moments during quarantine where we worked right up until lunchtime and were then quickly scraping things together in a hungry haze. Continue to make lunchtime fun but having pizza Fridays, quesadilla Tuesdays – whatever. Prepping lunch ahead also helps save time and allows you to take full advantage of lunch breaks.
Here are some more 8fit meals that kids (and adults) love:
Apple and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Greek Yogurt and Berry Smoothie
Banana Pancakes with Topping
4. Stay hydrated
Keep plenty of water, smoothies, and milk or milk alternatives on rotation during the day. Dehydration can lead to low energy, dry skin, irritability, and poor digestion. One way to stay on top of your healthy hydration habit is by keeping a water bottle or pitcher of water on your desk. Another option, especially if you need more movement during the day, is to have a tall glass at your desk but make a habit of filling it up again once it’s empty. Reminder: Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. Drink water before you reach for a snack.