Healthy back to school!
Hello and happy return to the routine for those of you who have children returning to school or a job that starts up in September! The end of summer always has me feeling a little anxious – anxious about summer ending and Fall arriving soon, anxious for the beginning of new sessions and courses and anxious for the return to school and regular daycare routine for my girls.
Oh and of course when school starts it means more exposure to viruses and kids getting ill!
Today I’ll give you tips on how to keep your kids strong now that they’re back in school or in a more structured daycare routine.
In today’s world we’re constantly bombarded with information on what to do, what not to do, what to feed our children, what to avoid.
Honestly, it can all feel a little overwhelming. With all this information, we sometimes don’t know what to feed our children anymore and just plain give up!
I’m here to keep things simple and remind you that you’re doing the best you can. You deserve a high five simply for reading this and caring about your children’s health but also you deserve many high fives for all the many great things you do as mothers. Mothering can be really hard at times, so without further blah blah blah-ing, here are some foods and supplements you can focus on as well as some exercises you can show your kids to help calm and re-center them.
The sunshine vitamin! We truly can’t get enough of this! Vitamin D helps us have healthy bones and teeth, good mental health and a strong immune system. Salmon, eggs, cow’s milk or fortified milk alternatives are good choices. You can also look into Vitamin D supplements during the cold dark months if you live in the northern hemisphere (my girls take Vitamin D during the entire school year).
Fibre is important for good digestive health and bowel movements. The gut is known as the second brain so when we have good digestive health we feel good in the mind and the body too! Berries, oatmeal, carrots, avocados, chia and flax seeds (grind them up for better absorption and put them in a smoothie!), almonds and sugar-free cereals are good sources of fibre.
Potassium helps with normal cell function. It also plays an important role in the strength of our bones and muscles. Good sources are bananas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, yogurt and oranges.
Healthy gut flora helps keep our immune systems strong and resilient. Good especially during flu season. Supplements are well tolerated by children but if you can’t get your kids to take supplements, give them yogurt or kefir with a high level of probiotics.
Brain health food which are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, cod as well as vegetarian options such as flax seeds and hemp seeds.
1, 2, 3 LET’S MOVE!
Sitting long hours at a desk and having to focus all day can be tiresome for some kids. It can make them more hyper or the opposite, more lethargic. They need a way to help bring more focus, more calmness and more fun to their day!
Here are a few Brain-Gym and pilates exercises that you can show them at home:
- BREATHING: Breathing into the belly like a balloon, breathing out with a haaaaaaaa. This teaches them how to calm down in stressful and emotional situations.
- CRISS-CROSS: Stand with the feet apart. Arms up. Reach one arm/shoulder down towards the opposite knee as it lifts. This helps to connect both sides of the body and brain, improving their coordination and focus.
- SIT ON THE FLOOR WITH THE LEGS AND ARMS CROSSED. Put the tongue on the roof of the mouth, towards the front teeth. Breathe in and out thru the nose. This magic spot on the roof of the mouth is linked to the amygdala in the brain, the part that helps to regulates our emotions. When we’re in a constant fight or flight mode, the amygdala is over-stimulated. Pressing here will help to calm it down. Oh and interesting little fact – this space that they’ll be stimulating with the tongue is the exact spot that the nipple or pacifier touches when they nurse/feed or suck their thumb/pacifier. No wonder it’s so soothing to have their thumb in their mouths!
- NECK ROLLS: Roll head from one shoulder to the other. Releasing all the tension in the shoulders and neck on the exhale.
- ENERGETIC YAWNS: Improves reading, writing and speaking. Lubricates the eyes, brings energy to the body and mind. Place hands next to each jaw, just below ears. Rub these zones while yawning deeply, making the yawning sound.
- OPENING THE EARS: Helps us hear our voice, helps us to think more clearly. Massage this zone starting at top of ears and massaging down all the way to the ear lobes.
- TWIST: Stand and rotate body and arms right to left. This helps to energize the body, mobilize the spine, stimulate digestion and free up some back tensions.
- CHEST STRETCH WITH ROLL DOWN: Reach arms up to ceiling, circle arms out to sides and open chest up to ceiling. Roll down to floor as the arms reach down. This helps to mobilize the spine and stretch the back and the chest (good after carrying heavy backpack!)
These exercises don’t take long and you can choose how many repetitions you do depending on your child’s mood. Make it fun and not forced so that your child enjoys these exercises. Sometimes I even plug one of these exercises in when I see my daughter is struggling with her homework. It shakes up the energy and gives her more to continue and be focused.
May you have a calm, happy and healthy start to the school/daycare year! And if your baby is still small and at home with you some of these exercises can be done by you (criss-cross, opening the ears, crossing arms and legs, and breathing – just place your hand on your baby’s belly and breathe with him).
Breathe, grow and let go,