By Letty Holmbo, MBA, RD, LD My H-E-B Texas Life Chef
Just as routines provide structure in the classroom, a routine at home helps kids know what to expect. Before bedtime have your children decide on what to wear and place shoes and backpacks by the door. As a family, decide on what's for breakfast - use a crock-pot to cook oatmeal or bake apples or pears while you sleep! Children who feel they've had a part in preparing meals will be more likely to eat, so include them in menu planning, shopping, and preparation. Here are a few more tips for creating a routine that will work for your family:
- Set up a lunch making station in your kitchen where lunch boxes, zipper bags, small containers and water bottles are all kept.
- Set aside an area in your refrigerator and pantry for lunch box solutions - sliced fresh fruit, vegetables, deli meat slices, string cheese, peanut butter, pretzels, applesauce and almonds.
- Early to bed and early to rise - School is hard enough without feeling sleepy, so make sure your kids are getting the right amount of sleep - young children (pre-teen and younger) need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Children with chronic sleep deprivation can have difficulties learning, paying attention and are more likely to be overweight. Limit television and video games before bedtime and set an incrementally earlier bedtime, and wake-up time, during the weeks leading up to school to make sure your kids get a fresh start!
- Eat breakfast - Breakfast is the key meal of the day! Each morning set a timer to let your family know when it's time to come to the kitchen. Ten minutes allows enough time to eat and have a family meeting to review the day's schedule and offer words of encouragement. This step provides a calm start to your family's day rather than scarfing down food in the car and rushing off to school.
- Involve your children - Talk with your child about nutrition and the importance of developing a healthy body. Keep in mind that children generally accept a new food after it has been offered at least ten times - so don't give up if your child tends to be a picky eater! Together, come up with a family plan, including a list of steps the family wants to take to eat healthier. See back to school recipes in My H-E-B Texas Life.