Children usually love school holidays, however, being forced to spend time at home may be challenging for some kids. Children staying at home during the day may be creating disruption at several levels, in the routine of your children, their learning plans, exercise patterns and perhaps even their eating habits.
It is difficult to maintain a routine when everyone is at home. However, it’s important to try and ensure your children continue to remain healthy and well-nourished.
- Don’t let fatigue set in with respect to the importance of hand hygiene and social distancing. Consider playing games with handwashing – perhaps they can count the total number of times they wash their hands and celebrate every time they hit a milestone!
- While hand hygiene is important, please remember that your children’s health and nourishment requires a holistic approach, especially when their routines are disrupted. Unlike vacations when you may relax routines, this is not a holiday and so it is important that your child gets into a regular, predictable routine of activities and meals. Such a routine will also provide a sense of security & comfort to your child.
- Build in some degree of flexibility into routines to avoid regimenting your child’s day. The key is to balance the reassurance that comes from a predictable schedule and the freedom for them to express themselves. Routines are also important for children to eat well. Staying with a routine will help your child eat well and at regular times. Make sure you continue with your family’s daily time for the key meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack daily. It’s best not to deviate from these because you may unsettle your child’s routine and appetite.
- Avoid junk food! Now is a great time to introduce your child to traditional foods and cereals. Involve them in the preparation of meals, let them do specific tasks in the kitchen and make them part of meal preparation. This will give them a sense of purpose, provide physical activity and help work up their appetite for the next meal!
- Ask your child to think about presenting food on the plate in different ways. This will allow her to exercise her creativity and take a greater interest in foods that you are preparing at home.
- Another important thing to bear in mind is the need for your child to get exercise. This is vital for her to remain physically and mentally active and work up an appetite so she can eat well. Since they cannot go outdoors, consider building an obstacle course at home, run laps, jump rope, use a hula hoop or perhaps have a dance party! A bat or a racquet and a ball are adequate to convert any home into a playground!
- While going outdoors is a challenge, make sure your child spends at least 30 minutes in the balcony or near a sunlit window to get a daily dose of Vitamin D. Make sure she continues to eat foods with rich doses of Vitamin D[Hyperlink]. This is vital for your child to continue forming strong bones especially at this age when they are growing rapidly.
- Staying at home with reduced physical activity is often leads to reduced water intake. Make sure your children are having enough water everyday. Get them into the habit of sipping water from their school bottle every few hours. You’ll know they are having enough water if their urine is light in colour. Again, the idea is to get them into a routine that provides physical activity.
- Staying socially connected is a critical part of providing your children a sense of routine. Schedule calls with friends and family, have your children dress up and tidy up their rooms for these calls so they continue to remain active.
Keeping your children healthy is not simply a matter of what they eat, but also what they do in between meals. A regular routine and physical activity will help your children come to the table with the appetite and interest to enjoy their meals and stay well-nourished.