During the cold winter months it’s easy to fall into patterns of too much screen time or unhealthy habits that leave us more vulnerable to illness. Sometimes it feels like all we want to do is hibernate, but we’re not biologically set up to sleep for three months straight. We need daily activity, good food and lots of water to keep our immune system up and so do our kids.
With a little focus you and your family can prioritize your health, happiness and energy levels the next few months.
Here are five ways to be healthy this winter.
Get Active Daily
Being active is good for mental, emotional and physical health for parents and kids. Dress for the weather and try to spend a little bit of time outside every day so you can soak up vitamin D from the sun. Take a short walk around the block, go to your local neighborhood park or play a fun winter sports game.
If it’s too cold to stay outside, try some indoor activities like yoga or dance. Yoga and dance will help kids build strength, flexibility and focus. Dance also gives an opportunity for kids to express themselves creatively.
Releasing some energy at various times throughout the day will help kids focus better when they sit down to work on school work.
To keep your body functioning well, try to drink water throughout the day. Water aids in digestion, temperature regulation and our ability to fight off illness, along with many other body functions. Plan to drink some with every meal, and definitely drink more when thirsty. Give your kids their own water bottle and challenge them to drink the whole thing throughout the day. If kids are exercising it’s important to drink water before, during and after physical activity to stay well hydrated.
To make it fun, start a water challenge. Create a goal for how much water each kid will drink daily, and then let them color in the chart as they complete the daily goals. You could do this for a week or a month, and award the most consistent water drinker with a new water bottle.
Focus On Sleep
Keeping a consistent sleep routine helps with the body’s recovery process and immunity. Pick a designated bedtime and wake up time each day. Try to limit exposure to technology (TVs, cell phones, computers) for an hour before bed. During that time, suggest alternative activities like reading, taking a bath, or yoga stretching. Too much light in the evening can make it hard to fall asleep, so build routines that encourage relaxation and less screen time.
Eating well and reducing sugar can also aid your body in fighting off sickness, which is especially important during the winter months. Cutting sugar out of the family diet is a little easier to do when everyone is home all the time and you’re able to decide what you do or don’t bring into the house foodwise.
Get your kids excited about eating well by involving them in the cooking process. Involving kids in meal planning and cooking will help them appreciate healthier meals. There are lots of fun, healthy meal ideas online. Designate one day of the week as the kids meal day and let them prepare it (with supervision of course).
Wash Hands Often
It’s important to teach (or remind) our kids of good hand washing hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds (sing the alphabet twice) multiple times a day including but not limited to after blowing your nose, using the restroom, or going to public places. This one is a given, but it’s good to emphasize to your kids how often they should be washing their hands.