• Never skip breakfast – Even though the kids may lay in bed a little later than usual, it’s important to get them into the habit that they should be having a good breakfast when they get up. Having more time in the summer means more time to make breakfast fun as well. Move away from the convenient cereals and go for some fresh fruit and yogurt, let them choose what fruit they would like. Why not have some egg on toast or good old eggy soldiers!
• Regular meal times – Speaking of breakfast, it’s also important to try and keep your kids meals around the same time. I don’t mean once 12 o’clock hits, they should be sitting down to their lunch, but I do think they should get used to having a solid breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whether their lunch is at 1pm or 3pm isn’t really the point, the fact they know they have something to eat during the day and again their dinner in the evening, will keep them in some form of routine when they start back at school.
• Limit fizzy drinks – Steer clear of the fizzy drinks/ fruit juices. Obviously this is easier said than done, but limiting these types of drinks to certain occasions will benefit your kids so much more growing up, never mind saving the dental bills – they’ll thank you later! A few ways to make them drinks water more often could include getting them their own cup/bottle that to drink out of, as well as some fun-shaped straws. Using ice molds to make fruit juice ice will give their water some flavour, without the sugar from a cup of fruit juice. Chopping up some fruit and putting it in their water is another way to add some flavour, and they get to eat the fruit after!
• Healthy snacking – Have different types of fruit and veg readily chopped up and available throughout the day for your kids to snack on. You will soon know which fruits/vegetables are their favourite, let’s face it, they probably won’t like them all! Try out different snacks such as yogurt or dark chocolate covered strawberries, frozen grapes, fun-shaped fruits etc.
• Sneak some veggies in – If your child will not take any vegetables, then I would suggest trying different variations first of all, getting them to try those cooked vs raw as well might help. Aside from this, you can make them some nice summer smoothies/juices and sneakily add in some veg that doesn’t have a strong taste. Citrus fruits tend to overpower most vegetables.
• Make ‘Fakeaways’ – Avoid getting takeaways as much as possible, and try to make your kids’ favourite fast foods healthier. For example, using a pitta bread or whole meal wrap, you can make your own healthy version of a pizza. All you have to do is add some marinara sauce, and get the kids to help put their favourite toppings on top before finishing with some mozzarella! Easy, healthy and a great idea if the Irish weather takes a turn for the worst and you need an activity to do indoors with the kids! Win win!
• Lead by example – Your kids watch what you do. If they’re not allowed fizzy drinks and they see you gulping down a can of coke, then it really defeats the purpose. They will question the reason as to why they aren’t allowed fizzy drinks yet you are. “Because I said so”, won’t cut it here I’m afraid!
• Keep active! – This isn’t usually a problem for most, I’m sure, but if you have a child that is always inside and doesn’t like playing outside, then try your best to find something they enjoy that involves getting them moving. This could be horse riding lessons, a local summer camp, football training, going to the park, or even staying indoors and playing games on the Wii Fit (if that’s even a thing anymore!), you get what I mean.
Obviously, the summer is a time for your kids to have fun, so bombarding them with DO’s and DON’T’s isn’t exactly what you want to be doing. However, most of the above tips can be implemented fairly easily and without much attention paid by your kids.
Why not try just one of them and see how it goes? Having taught PE for kids as young as 3, for 2 years, I find that repetition is key! Persist and it’ll become the norm for them to snack on fruit and veggies instead of chocolate and crisps. You see yourself just by watching the news how obesity is growing every day, it’s up to the adults in children’s lives to guide them in the right direction.
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