There is a mix of emotions among parents and children as the start of school approaches. As a parent, you may be feeling anxious about the rise of COVID infections, overwhelmed trying to make sure kids have school supplies and forms turned in, and maybe even a little relieved that there is a glimmer of routine on the horizon. Here are some tips to help you navigate the back-to-school topics many families are facing.
COVID-19 can be a serious illness, and the latest wave of infections may feel scary and frustrating. The good news is that all children 6 months and older are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and those 5 years and older are eligible for a booster dose. In addition to vaccination, you can help reduce the spread of illness by creating multiple layers of protection. These layers include socializing outdoors as much as possible, wearing a mask when indoors, keeping children home if they are symptomatic, getting children tested for COVID if they are sick or have been exposed, and performing good hand hygiene. If your child has confirmed or suspected COVID, it is also important to comply with isolation guidelines to further prevent the spread of the disease.
There is nothing scarier than the unknown. A consistent routine allows children to feel safe, calm, and have a sense of accomplishment in handling their own lives. Don’t forget to include opportunities for personal connection in your routine. Dr. Alex Hill, a pediatrician in our Bothell office, encourages his patients and their parents to have routine family connecting time, especially time with no agenda to just be together.
Sadly enough, this can be one of the most hypocritical things a parent can try to implement in a household. Do we really expect our kids to put down their phones while we are still checking our work email? In order to establish a healthy habit of unplugging, try implementing a family-wide digital detox. It doesn’t have to be a throwback to the dark ages, but rather, an hour at the end of the day where families can connect over books, magazines, board games, or just conversation. This allows family relationships to take center stage and gives everyone’s eyes a break. Dr. Brianna Label from our Bothell office echoes the findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Media use around or after bedtime can disrupt sleep and negatively affect school performance.”
You may not be able to monitor what they eat throughout the entire day, but you can certainly provide healthy alternatives to sugar-filled snacks and set aside time for family meals. Packing a few healthy snacks to get them through the day can keep energy levels up, while reducing the likelihood of a complete afternoon crash. While we know evenings can be busy with homework, sports practice, and music lessons, family dinners are a great time to model healthy eating habits and to connect and discuss events from the day. Dr. Rick Keeler from our Redmond Ridge office suggests that families try to eat meals together whenever possible.
Finding time to exercise can be tough for anyone, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. At least an hour of physical activity each day is ideal and it doesn’t have to come in a single session or from organized sports. A few quick sets of pushups and jumping jacks with your kids in the morning or a family walk in the evening can be a great way to connect, stay fit, and have fun. Dr. Jervis Belarmino, a pediatrician in our Totem Lake office, says “Studies have shown that regular exercise has a positive effect on overall school performance and a recent study suggests that it may even improve memory.”
And one last tidbit of advice: don’t forget to celebrate the small moments, milestones, and new things in every year. Enjoy the time you have together as a family!