School’s out for summer! The long vacation is a time to relax the rules and allow the kids a few more treats, so it’s no wonder that they look forward to it all year round. As parents, we want them to enjoy themselves and recharge their batteries before the new term begins, but we also want them to stay healthy. Striking that balance can be tough, which is why today’s blog post is full of advice about how to keep your family happy and well.
There’s nothing like the British countryside for a family day out. Visiting a national park or nature reserve makes for a really active time that’s sure to tire the kids out (read: minimal bedtime drama). Alternatively, for something more low key, head to your local park or woods. Spark their imagination with bear hunts or get interactive by challenging them to spot as many types of plants, animals, and insects as they can. There are plenty of apps available to help you identify what they find. At home, go back to basics with toys like skipping ropes, balls, and hula hoops. They’re inexpensive and encourage the kids to get up and move – certainly better than hours spent in front of a games console.
Summer sports or dance camps are another way to blend exercise with fun. They typically run for a week or a fortnight and are great for working parents who struggle to get time off. If your child doesn’t like traditional sports or dance, there are plenty of active summer camps with off-the-wall itineraries. From archery and kayaking to rollerblading and rock climbing, they tend to vary their daily offerings so there’ll be something for everyone.
Eating out can be a treat for children and parents alike (huzzah, no washing up!) but the kids’ menu is typically full of fried foods with healthy options being few and far between. To counterbalance these meals, look at other areas of your child’s diet to see if there are healthy swaps to be made. Instead of ice cream, for example, make your own fruit juice ice pops or freeze orange segments and grapes. This cuts down on sugar and sneaks in one of their five-a-day.
If takeaways are more your style, try having a make your own pizza night. Pre-prepared bases and sauces are easily available in larger supermarkets but be careful to read the labels to avoid ones that are laden with sugar. From a nutritional perspective, homemade (okay, pre-prepared helpers aren’t totally homemade but still…) is better than a takeaway because you cut out the excess oils and salt that pizzerias use. Moreover, the kids will love designing their own dinner.
School may be out, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Take some time to teach your kids about healthy living and how to make the right food choices, then give them opportunities to practice the same. This will help them to develop a sense of independence and will set them up to continue making good lifestyle decisions when they’re older and you’re not there looking over their shoulder.
Good ways of doing this include getting them involved in planning the weekly food shop and cooking the dinner. They can also help to prepare their own packed lunch if they’re going to a summer camp or the family picnic for days out.
The school holidays pass in the blink of an eye but the memories you make last a lifetime. Outside of the term time routine it can be easy to let treats dominate the agenda but staying healthy over the summer doesn’t have to be boring. Choose active days out over sedentary ones and get creative in the kitchen. And if some days you feel like vegging out or indulging your taste buds that’s okay too – it’s all about balance, not perfection.