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Back to routines

If there’s one thing that can help maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s a routine. Make this year’s back-to-school transition easier on the whole family by putting a schedule in place to best serve everyone’s mental and physical health.

It’s back-to-school time, which means back to routines. You’ll likely get your child’s academic calendar for the year, which is the ideal time to schedule well child visits, eye exams, dental check-ups and more. Booking these appointments when your child has an inservice day off school (or on late start/early release days) makes things less hectic during the busy year.

When booking your child’s regular health exams, consider:

  • Booking the whole family for regular vision checks. Starting the school year off with a fresh pair of glasses (if you need them) can go a long way to making reading, studying and classwork more comfortable.

  • Schools, particularly elementary, often provide screenings for scoliosis, vision and hearing. While these are useful, they are not a replacement for regular well-child exams with your child’s health care provider.

  • Kids who play sports will need physicals. These are usually required for any team tryout, and also serve as a good baseline for children who do not require frequent medical care. Typically your child’s health care provider can provide them to you at regular well child visits, which is a time saver.

  • Dental appointments can fill up fast, so book early. If you have more than one child, see if you can book back-to-back appointments. Doing so keeps your kids on the same schedule for their next visits, too.

Getting back into the rhythm of going to bed early and waking up for school can be jarring to the system. It can make for a very tiring first week of school, but there are ways you can ease back in. For all school-age children, reinstate a sleep routine a week or two before school starts. It’s difficult to go to bed when it’s still light outside, but it will lead to better mornings for all. Sleep is one of the most important factors in both mental and physical health, so it makes good sense to prioritize it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 6 to 12 get 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night, and ages 13 to 18 years get 8 to 10 hours. It may be frustrating to find your teen sleeping in or dozing off, but remember they have to fit in a lot of hours between school, family, sports and after-school jobs.

Good eating habits are one of the first things to be tossed aside when busy or under stress, so plan ahead to avoid going off the rails (and drive-throughs). Meal planning can feel a bit onerous, but consider taking it a couple days at a time. Buying groceries for a few meals at once takes the pres-

sure off at the end of a work day, and can even save you a little at the grocery store. Fewer trips mean fewer impulse buys. Get in the habit of preparing lunches the night before, when possible, and involve the kids in the choices and prep.

By layering in healthy routines, the whole family can benefit from a more enjoyable school year. With your preventive health care needs scheduled, good sleep for all and a bit of meal prep, you might enjoy less colds and illness, as well as improved moods. Here’s to a healthy school year for you and your family!


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