Creating healthy habits for families as kids return to school

Aug 25, 2022, 10:24 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 5:24 pm

PROVO, Utah — Summer has come to an end, and school is back in session, which comes with a big adjustment for both parents and kids.

Intermountain Healthcare is sharing tips on how to create new healthy routines as your kids head back to the classroom.

“It can be a hard adjustment time for a lot of families. There’s usually a lot going on in summer with camps and vacations, camping, so that is the time when kids and families, in general, tend to really get outside of a routine,” said Maddison Heyn, family practice physician assistant at Intermountain LiveWell Center.

For help adjusting back into a routine, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the 5-2-1-0 rule, which is meant to give easy reminders about daily healthy habits.

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day,
  • 2 hours or less of screen time, including TV, video games, or tablets,
  • 1 hour of physical activity per day,
  • and 0 sugar-sweetened drinks

Maddison Heyn, family practice physician assistant explaining what health practices are best.

Heyn also said prioritizing your kid’s sleep should also be a part of your new routine.

“Research shows kids who do not get enough sleep tend to have attention and learning problems at school in addition to physical problems like hypertension and diabetes,” she explains.

Heyn said kids in elementary school, ages 6 to 12, are recommended 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night. For teens, 12 to 18, doctors say they need 8 to 10 hours a night.

For mom of three, Abby, she starts her fourth grader, kindergartener, and a young baby on a back-to-school routine well before school starts.

“When school starts about a week before, we really try to get them on a better schedule, get them sleeping earlier in the evening so that they’re ready and just getting them adjusted,” she said.

Heyn said eating healthy should also be a big part of your new routine.

“It’s important to get kids involved in their nutrition overall. We like to recommend that kids help choose healthy fruits and vegetables at the grocery store when they go with their families, as well as helping to prepare a healthy meal at home,” she said.

Mother Abby explaining her back-to-school routine.

Heyn added that by doing this, it gets kids more excited about eating healthier foods.

Abby said back-to-school time brings a busy schedule, making eating unhealthy foods sometimes easier. She said to avoid this, she plans.

“I’ve noticed [if I] prep once a week that I’m more likely to have my kids eat healthy foods because if not, with the rush of getting the kids to school in the morning, it ends up being something unhealthy,” Abby said.

Heyn said the last part of your healthy routine is ensuring that your kids get at least one hour of exercise a day. She said this could be done by doing simple things like walks or playing a game of tag.

Abby said her kids like to play soccer with her in the backyard for their exercise.

“It’s fun for them, and it tires me out,” she said.

For advice or to schedule a meeting with a professional for advice on how to create healthy habits for you and your family, visit LiveWell’s website.

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