Ah, the joyous sounds of summer… “I don’t want to go outside! It’s too hot!”, “can I have a snack?” and my personal favorite, “I’m bored!” It’s so tempting to throw in the towel on promoting healthy habits and let summer break become a junk food and screen time free-for-all. But just because the kids are on vacation doesn’t mean their health should be too. With a little help, it is possible to maintain healthy kids AND your sanity!
Summer Vacation Habits for Healthy Kids All Year Long
Don’t get me wrong, summertime is the BEST. Family memories at the pool, on the playground, traveling, and summer camps. Unfortunately, summertime can also mean sugar highs, sunburns, drive-thrus, boredom, and too much TV time. We know the key to foundational health and happiness comes from eating healthy foods, moving, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep every night.
But when the days are long and the nap times short, how do we provide a healthy structure?
For starters, we opt for small swaps. When my stepdaughter wants to take the car to the swimming pool, we opt for a bike ride. When she wants to eat Goldfish as a snack, we accompany it with a fruit or vegetable. When she wants endless screen time, we compromise and add in a routine for summer journals as well. Insisting on these tiny compromises means she still feels the summertime freedom, but I get to feel a clear conscience about her wellbeing.
We also work to maintain healthy routines throughout the summer – yep, routines aren’t just for weekdays during the school year! Teaching my stepdaughter that taking care of her body and mind is a year-round responsibility means that (hopefully!) she’ll take it seriously, even when she’s not at our house.
We stress the importance of brushing teeth morning and night – yes, even if you’re at a sleepover on a Tuesday – as well as going to bed at a reasonable time at night and getting up and dressed at a reasonable time in the morning.
These routines don’t need to be identical to their school-year counterparts, they just need to exist! This is another opportunity for some tiny compromises between summer fun and parent peace of mind. Bedtime during the school year may be 8:30, but maybe during the summer it’s 9:30 unless attending a special nighttime activity. Compromise on the details, but keep the routines themselves!
The other big piece of a healthy summer in our family is activity. We aim for at least one physical activity every time my stepdaughter is home. It can be an afternoon of swimming or a family walk to the park, but it’s so important to make movement a priority.
It’s 2:00 PM and I realize my child has been in the same room all day, watching Netflix? Time to switch to YouTube for a yoga video we can do together. It doesn’t have to be running laps on a track. Just be mindful of moments throughout the day you can use to encourage healthy movement.
I know these are simple things. I know they are vague and you’ve heard them before. “Of course I’d like my kids to get sleep and exercise while on summer vacation. Of course I want healthy kids. But it’s not that easy! It takes so much planning, Pinteresting (that’s a verb now, right?), and stalking my supermom friends on Instagram to gather all the actual healthy kid tips, tricks, and activity ideas!”
But what if it wasn’t? What if it wasn’t much work for you at all?
In my dreams…
What if you could pull all of your most creative moms together to compile a master list of
- Favorite kids sunscreens
- Natural bug repellant
- Creative ideas to get active with your kids
- Summer recipes that are kid approved
- Easy homemade healthy popsicle
- On-the-go travel snacks
- In the Kitchen Tools for Kids (like Cook by Colours!)
- Kids Eat Free Programs
We are talking “all the things” to empower your family to make simple, but meaningful, lifestyle changes that will propel them forward this summer on the journey to better health.
*Insert “I Dream of Genie” nose crinkle* Your wish is our command!
This year, we created an online community of mamas sharing their best tips, tricks, and tools to hold it together during these crazy summer days. It is called the 100 Healthy Kids Summer Challenge.
The goal? To send 100 kids back to school healthier than they left it. And we believe it is possible!
Starting today, if you join this online community and the associated Healthy Starts for Families program, you will have a chance to win a theme park vacation for a family of four by sharing pictures and videos on your Instagram of your family’s health journey!
Want to join the movement and have a healthier summer with me? Search 100 Healthy Kids on Facebook or join here.
P.S. Looking for ways to get out with the kids without breaking the bank? This is hands-down the BEST DEAL on activities to do with your stepchildren this summer!