As December rolls along, the temperature in most parts of the country will continue to drop.
Not only does winter signal plunging temps, but also shorter days and the start of cold and flu season.
It’s very challenging this time of year for parents to keep their kids active and healthy. It might take a little extra effort, but there are still ways to help your kids fight off illness and get plenty of exercise.
Wash your hands
Thorough handwashing is the first line of defense against many illnesses – from common colds to the flu and more serious infections.
The CDC breaks down effective handwashing into five steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. As simple as this is, I t’s one of the best way to remove germs and prevent the spread of germs.
Make sure your kids are washing their hands before they eat, after using the restroom, and after sneezing or coughing into their hands.
Once the temperature drops, it can become challenging for parents to find ways to keep their children physically active since they might not be able to play outside.
Some days you might be able to have a fun snow day where you bundle up with the kids and build snowmen, go sledding, and have snowball fights. (But make sure you take proper steps to stay safe in the cold, ice, and snow!)
Other times you will have to be more creative to make sure they get the exercise they need.
You could try signing your kids up for winter sports like basketball or hockey, although that can be a significant time and money commitment depending on the sport. If your kids don’t want to play in a league, you could still purchase a YMCA membership and get them some exercise that way.
A lot of kids turn to the TV and video games during the winter months for entertainment so use that to your advantage. There are a number of active video game systems, such as the Xbox Fitness and Wii Fit U, that encourage exercise through gaming. “Exergaming,” if you will.
Since there is a good chance your kids aren’t going to be as physically active in the winter months, proper nutrition takes on an added importance.
Eatright.org has a list of seasonal foods that are particularly healthy for children. Those include salmon, clementines, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
It’s important for your kids to eat healthy year-round in order to get the proper nutrients and vitamins they need, but it’s even more crucial during winter. Here are some meal-planning tips if you’re a divorced dad still learning his way around the kitchen.
Catch some ZZZZs
While children need to stay active during winter, it’s also important that they get adequate rest.
Adequate sleep is essential for a healthy immune system, so make sure you establish a bedtime routine with your kids that gets them plenty of sleep.
How much sleep children needs varies by age. The Sleep Foundation recommends teenagers get between 8 to 10 hours, school-aged children between 9 and 11 hours and preschoolers between 10 to 13 hours.