Total honesty time here, parents: summertime can sometimes be a struggle in terms of your kids’ health. Between day camps, vacation, high temperatures and late sunsets, it can be easy for kids to slip into some unwelcome patterns that can make going back to school seem impossible. The change in their routine can lead to some serious sluggishness that can be a big frustration point for kids and parents alike.
Make this summer the best of your kids’ lives by being aware of their health habits... while also having LOTS of fun!
How do you know your child is staying active enough?
Generally speaking, children need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day. Three days a week, this activity should help build strong muscles and bones. (Of course, each kid is different and each has their own unique needs, so work with your pediatrician to decide how much activity and what kind might be appropriate.)
If your kids seem more interested in screens and apps than sneakers and activities, it’s probably time to mix up the routine. Go to a waterpark, hop on a trampoline, have a foam sword fight, climb an indoor rock wall, run through the sprinklers or take a class in martial arts.
Food is often a tug-of-war between parents and children. You know your kids need to have well-balanced meals and nutritious snacks, but kids can make that difficult. Whether you’ve got a picky eater or a sugar fiend, there are compromises that let everybody feel like a winner.
Food researchers believe that the first step toward peaceful, healthy meal times is to make food a group choice and collaborative effort. Involve kids in menu-planning, shopping and preparing food when possible. Go to the farmer’s market together and let them choose the purple potatoes and spotted peppers! (Children’s multivitamins are an important backup to a well-balanced diet: ask your pediatrician for a recommendation.)
If your kids steer toward less-nutritious choices, find ways to hack their favorites. For instance, if they’re craving sweet treats this summer, find similar recipes that utilize organic ingredients and way less sugar.
Sun & Heat
It’s hot out there. When the temperatures soar, your kids may be feeling it more than they initially let on. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and monitor your kids closely when they’re playing outdoors. Take lots of breaks to drink water and rest in the shade. If you can avoid playing outside during the hottest hours of the day, that may be ideal.
Be mindful of the UV index. When it’s at its highest, make sure your kids are either out of the sun or covered with UV-protective clothing and sunscreen. Sunscreen, hats and UV-rated sunglasses are your friends!
And of course, never leave your kids in a parked vehicle: even if the air is on, the vehicle may stall or they may accidentally knock the air off.
Scheduling appointments can often slip our minds when summer rolls in. Get ahead of that by busting out your calendar and making sure you’re on schedule with all your kids’ checkups, boosters and shots. If your child will need a checkup, immunization or sports physical for the coming school year, go ahead and schedule the appointment for about six weeks before school is due to start back so you won’t be rushed to get that done.
Your kids should be seeing the dentist at least every six months. If they have orthodontic needs, be sure you get those appointments booked for the summer so you can plan all your road trips and camp stays accordingly.
Your children might be missing their friends from school or may be feeling a little adrift during the summer months. Schedule playdates or find opportunities for them to meet new people. Volunteer together, go to new parks, try new activities and go places you’ve never been. Our community offers a bevy of free activities, like those scheduled by the Lexington Public Library, Lexington Parks & Recreation department, Arboretum, DLP and local neighborhoods. You and your child can discover our city together without spending a dime.