Five Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Hustle and Bustle of the School Year

August 2, 2016

By: Liz Choate, RD LD

The dog days of summer are coming to a close, and that means it's time to get ready for the hustle and bustle of another school year -- trading in Saturday afternoons at the pool for homework, ballgames and that seemingly never-ending to-do list around the house. As we countdown to the start of the new school year, Jackson Purchase Medical Center ( JPMC) wants to offer five quick tips to help keep your family healthy and happy. 

Plan Ahead. Your meals, that is. Figuring out a nutritious meal that your family will enjoy can be tough at the end of a long day. So rather than waiting until the end of each day, plan out your meals -- breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks -- before the work week begins. Simple tricks include filling your fridge with easy-to-grab fruits and pre-washed vegetables for quick and healthy snacks; cooking and pre-portioning lunches for the week; and making sure dinner consists of a lean meat or fish and vegetables for a well-balanced diet. This will save you time and energy, and make it a little easier to bypass the fast food chains on your way home.

Ditch your digital devices. Smart phones, tablets, and other digital devices are a big part of daily life, but they can also be a big distraction from your loved ones. Try scheduling time for everyone to ditch the device and connect as a family -- this could be anything from establishing a "no-phone zone" each night during dinner, taking a post-dinner walk with the family or simply "unplugging" the hour before you go to bed. 

Get plenty of zzz's. Between work, school, extracurricular activities, sports, cooking, taking care of the house, and everything else that gets crammed into a work week, getting a full night's rest can sometimes be challenging. But sleep is vital to your overall health and well-being. To ensure you and your family get a good night's rest, the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule; 
  • Practice a consistent, calming bedtime ritual;
  • Avoid naps, particularly if you have a hard time falling asleep; 
  • Exercise daily; 
  • Ensure your bedroom is cool and calm; and
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow. 

Wash your hands. One of the easiest ways to keep you and your family healthy as the kids head back to school is regularly washing your hands. Train family members to wash their hands as soon as they enter the house to prevent the spread of germs. Always wash your hands before meals. And remember to avoid touching your eyes, ears, nose or mouth whenever possible.  

Schedule downtime. An important part of maintaining good health for you and your family is scheduling downtime each week. Aim to have at least one evening each week that is free of work or after-hours meetings, extracurricular activities or practices, or just the busyness that comes with running a household. Use this time to rest, recover and get ready for the coming week. 

At Jackson Purchase Medical Center, we are committed to Making Communities Healthier, and we hope these five tips help you and yours stay healthy and happy during the upcoming year.