Keeping Kids Healthy During the Holidays

December 5, 2019

Kaila Paar

Happy Holidays everyone! Ready or not the holiday season has officially begun, with Thanksgiving behind us, you know what follows next. The holiday extravaganza! Most of us can agree the next few months bring plenty of joy, love, and let's be honest, a little chaos. If we all agree the holiday season is a busy time for adults, can we take a minute to acknowledge the toll it takes on our children? Between the holiday parties, busy schedules, late nights and school breaks, the season can wreak havoc on our children in a lot of ways. Today I will be sharing some thoughts on overall wellness for your children as we approach this time of year.

Beating “Sugar Season”

While our awareness of cold & flu season is widespread, we are missing a serious component that contributes to illness this time of year. Sugar. How many of us have given thought to the amount of “sugar centered” holidays, parties, etc. we celebrate in the colder months? There is no coincidence when it comes to the overall health and amounts of sugar children consume during these months. Sugar has been proven to decrease immune function, cause hyperactivity and cognitive disfunction, predisposition for health issues as adults, and many more adverse effects. During this season I encourage parents to closely monitor your child's sugar intake and say “no” to treats in excess. Enjoying a sweet treat in moderation is a great way to allow your child to indulge but still be mindful of their overall health. In order to be successful with this, I recommend having a stash of “sweet” treat alternatives that encompass a healthier lifestyle on hand if your child wants something outside of the allotted treat. Some items I suggest are freeze-dried fruit, fruit/nut-based bars, veggie crisps, and my favorite a good ‘ole piece of fresh fruit. Having these items in a to-go arsenal is a must for this busy time of year! It will keep your kiddos satisfied and help curb some of the excessive sugar consumption.

Sleeping Well

If we feel tired, can you imagine what our kids feel this time of year?! So much joy, magical anticipation, hustle and bustle that we forget how much energy it takes out of them. My biggest tip is keeping sleep schedules as close to “normal” as possible. Children need adequate amounts of sleep to function at their absolute best, just like adults. Sleep is vital for your child's mood, cognitive function, stress levels, and so much more. If getting your kiddo to bed on time means leaving a function early, do it! You and your child will feel much better in the long run. Also, I want to mention rest for older kids. When school is out, I am a huge advocate for letting older children lounge more. They are overworked during the school year and holiday breaks are such a good time for some self-care. I suggest stocking up on some activities that create a sense of calm such as puzzles, board games and coloring/activity books for your kids to enjoy quietly. With you and your children well-rested, the holiday season will be much more “silent night” vs “jingle bell rock”.

Staying Active

If it's not frigid cold, get outside! It is such an easy way to help your child burn off energy, stay healthy, and clear their minds. Outdoor activities in the winter can vary. Some of my favorites obviously include snow, however there are plenty of additional activities that do not! I love taking it outdoors for a day at the sledding hill, building a snowman, having a snowball fight, and let’s not forget snow shoeing! No snow? Go for a walk, play a game of outdoor tag, or simply play a game of catch. Getting your children involved in winter activities is also a great way to create a positive attitude towards the cold weather. Many of us encourage outdoor play so much in the summer and less in the winter that our kids resort to indoor activities only. If we focus on shifting their mindset it will help achieve a more active lifestyle, even in the winter!

Overall wellness for our children is so much more than a multi-vitamin and proper handwashing. Let us enjoy the most wonderful time of year with our children, whole, happy and well.

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