I know, I know. All the parents out there are groaning and pretending that we aren’t half way through the summer and that it’s not time to start thinking about back to school. But guess what, it’s time to start thinking about back to school.
It never fails; come end of September or start of October I have a flood of families descending upon my office begging me to help them improve the immune systems of their kids. But ideally, I love to see families BEFORE school starts, and so here are some tips that you can start to implement now. Let’s make this a better cold and flu season for you, as well as a smoother start to the new school year.
GET BACK ON SCHEDULE
Just like yours, my kids complain that they don’t want to go to bed when it’s still so light outside. However even in the summer we try to remain consistent with a bedtime that is similar to what they have during the school year. Adequate sleep is foundational to a healthy immune system and going back to school is a big adjustment. If you’ve strayed off the beaten path as far as a bedtime routine and an appropriate bedtime, get back on track before school starts and save yourself the trouble in September when your kids have so many other things to adjust to.
EAT FOR HEALTH
Much like sleep schedules, the typical eating habits often go out the window in summer. But here’s the problem – we all eat food because we like the taste of it, but really food is fuel. Food provides the building blocks upon which our kids grow and hopefully thrive. If we deprive them of essential building blocks in place of chips, freezies and ice cream, we aren’t giving their immune system anything to work with to help keep them healthy. Not to mention it probably doesn’t help their behaviour and it will make it harder to get them back into a healthy eating routine when school starts. Focus on vegetables and fruit that are dark, deep and rich in colour. These foods are highest in antioxidants and give us the most bang for our buck as far as building blocks go. Think blues, reds, purples, oranges and greens. Get creative if you have to – like making a green smoothie made into popsicles or crunchy kale chips.
PREPARE THE GUT
Adequate healthy gut bacteria helps to protect you against getting sick. Late summer is a great time to get your child’s gut ready for all the bugs of fall and winter. A good quality probiotic taken daily is one way that you can do this, along with a healthy, varied diet. Our local health food stores sell a variety of great kid-friendly probiotics, though should you need something more specialized, such as a dairy-free option, feel free to contact our office.
One of the most common ways that people contract colds and flus is by touching their face. If you have a little one that touches their face a lot, rubs their eyes, sucks on a finger or thumb, or chews their nails, start working with them now to break that habit. Additionally, frequent and thorough hand-washing is important so that there are less bugs for you to transfer from your hands to your face. Any kind of soap will do, but most people (especially kids!) don’t wash long enough. Teach your child to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to themselves (ideally twice) while scrubbing the front and back of their hands, in between their fingers, around and under their nails. Rinse with water then shake dry before drying hands thoroughly on a clean towel.
These tips give you a great place to start, but if you have more questions or want to talk about your specific child(ren), book an appointment to see me. Enjoy the rest of your summer!