Manning Regional Healthcare Center
MRHC Shares Tips to Keep Kids Healthy This Summer
Summer’s long, lazy days are quickly approaching, abundant with new opportunities for play and recreation. With the change of pace also comes the need to be extra mindful of the health and safety of our children. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your family for an injury- and illness-free summer full of fun memories:
Plan your new routine. It can be hard to maintain a good routine once school is out, but it’s important to find a rhythm for anchor points in your day. Things like set mealtimes and bedtimes are so important for keeping summer chaos at bay and setting up good habits for the entire family. Transition times can be hard with a houseful of people, so consider posting a schedule for the day; if everyone knows the expectations for how the days will run, things can go much more smoothly. Also, consider including your children’s options for what to do at certain times of the day to cut down on “I’m bored” attitudes and foster some self-entertainment skills and independent play.
Make sure everyone gets plenty of sleep. Once school hours aren’t setting our schedules, it can be easy for good sleep habits to fall by the wayside. Sticking to a set bedtime each day this summer will go a long way for good attitudes and warding off illness in your home. Getting enough sleep each night gives us more energy to make healthier choices, like exercising and eating right and keeps everyone in better spirits (translation: less whining). Remember that lack of sleep also affects our immune system. Family members are more likely to get sick if they aren’t getting enough sleep and can have a slower recovery time after illness.
Set screen time limits. If not kept in check, your kids may be tempted to mindlessly play on a screen all day. Set expectations for not only what they are doing with their screen time, but how much time you’ll allow. Consider having them earn screen time by keeping up with daily chores and maintaining a good attitude. Encourage children to set a timer during screen time so they know when it’s time to put it away.
Stock up on sunscreen and bug spray. Once summer hits, we often find ourselves rummaging through closets, medicine cabinets, and our vehicles for last year’s sunblock and bug spray. Stay ahead of the game by locating now what you already have, purchase what you need, and keep them in places that are easily accessible for everyone in your family (both at home and on the road). We know how the days can get crazy busy and it’s hard for mom and dad to be on the ball all the time, so encourage children who are old enough to put on their own sunscreen and bug spray. Take some of the burden off yourself by getting them in the habit of remembering this important task before they go outside each day, and even consider displaying a sign by your door to remind everyone.
Keep healthy snacks around. Minimize the temptation for your kids to junk food binge while they’re home this summer by maintaining a pantry filled with healthy choices. Consider easy, self-serve options like bananas, grapes, apples, and string cheese. Yogurt and cut, fresh veggies dipped in hummus or nut butters are also great options.
Talk about summer safety habits. Have conversations with your kids about the dangers that go along with summer activities. Talk about water safety, the importance of life jackets, and being supervised by a responsible adult while in or near water. Other topics to bring to your child’s attention include the importance of wearing helmets while biking, staying hydrated in the heat, minimizing contact with ticks (and proper tick removal), how to treat bites and stings, how to identify an allergic reaction, and campfire safety. Talk them through when and how to call 911 if this is something you have not already discussed with your child.
Schedule routine health exams. Summer is a great time to schedule routine wellness exams and sports physicals because children and teens aren’t missing school. To schedule a well-child visit or sports physical with one of our Family Practice Clinic providers, please call (712) 655-2072.