The new school year arrives soon, which means new beginnings, new goals for healthy habits and schedules that are busier than ever.

For the months ahead, quick and convenient meals never appealed more, along with not enough hours in the day and endless drop-offs and pick-ups. Prepare now for a healthy routine and set yourself up for succeeding in building those healthy habits for the new school year with these tips:

Sleep routine 

The end of summer means an end to staying up late and sleeping in and getting into a healthy sleep routine for the whole family. Try to establish a new sleep routine a week or two before the first day of school by going to bed and waking up one hour earlier until the routine is established. A healthy sleep routine is best for the whole family to improve productivity, overall focus and mood, as well as improve our health.

Cut back on screen time 

With technology ever evolving and the age for screen-time use getting younger, the beginning of the school year is the best time to set some new standards in your household. Try to decrease screen time after school by staying involved with homework, creativity-boosting activities, and quality family time. Studies show that elementary-aged children use on average 7.5 hours per day of entertainment technology. Unfortunately, that number is not much different for most adults as the family dynamic has changed from a focus around the kitchen table to a focus on what’s on the television.

Healthy eating

From the lunchbox to the dinner table, healthy nutrition is of the utmost importance to our bodies at any age, and can help with proper growth and development, as well as combat against obesity, dental cavities and other health issues. Eating healthy can still be a part of any busy routine; all it takes is weekly meal planning and prep to set you up for success. Try to plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead on the weekend, that way you have time to prepare your list, grocery shop, and prep any meals ahead of time. Always keep healthy snack options visible on the kitchen counters, as well as keeping fresh and convenient options towards the front of the refrigerator. Most importantly, make sure everyone in the family is starting their day off with a balanced breakfast so as to improve cognitive function, reduce absenteeism, and improve overall mood.

Outdoor activities

Get moving! A family that plays together stays healthy together. Try to find 30 minutes each day to be active together, and if time doesn’t always allow try things like: walk your kids to school, ride bikes after dinner, shoot baskets, dance around in the living room, walk the dog, rake leaves, or play a yard game. Demonstrating the importance of physical activity for your kids at a young age will help improve their health as they get older but also get them into that healthy routine of exercising.

Organize your schedule

Choose an electronic calendar such as Google or Cozi that allows you to consolidate all family members schedules, as well as make it easy to view when on the go. Take 20 minutes each week to plan the schedule for the new week ahead. Making note of to-do’s, reminders, carpool, and meal planning. Use your time wisely by carpooling with other families in the neighborhood, taking turns on attending extracurricular activities, and asking for help from other family members so that the tasks never seem like too much. Balance is the key.

Listen and Learn

Allowing for family down time is essential in every household. As children get older, they have different needs and questions, and so we always need to be there to listen and learn. Always make yourself available, whether it a time to celebrate, a time to cry on your shoulder, or a time to help them learn from a certain situation. The quality of time spent as a family can go a long way to improve healthy habits.