Learn how to help kids have a healthy back-to-school season with nutritious food, non-toxic lunch gear, good sleep routines & eco-friendly school supplies.
This post is sponsored by NATROL, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
Ahhhhh…..back-to-school! It’s a time of such mixed feelings.
On one hand, it means a return to routines and maybe a little extra free time for us overworked parents. On the other hand, it symbolizes the end of summer – those long sunny days with beach time and vacations mixed with an extra dose of ice cream and picnic food.
As with any change, it can be hard to adapt – both for kids and for parents. We go from hardly any schedule at all, to bedtime routines and morning alarms. Suddenly, we have a long list of school supplies to buy and packed lunches to figure out.
Healthy Back-to-School Tips
Whether you are holding on to every last bit of summer or totally ready for the new routine, I’m here to help you make the back-to-school transition as healthy and eco-friendly as possible. Let’s dive in!
1.) Eco-Friendly School Supplies
Even though most school supplies are safe to use, some toxic ingredients like asbestos, benzene and phthalates and have been slipping into things like crayons, markers and school binders. On top of that, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of school supplies and look for recycled, reusable and plastic-free alternatives whenever possible. Here are some safe and planet-friendly alternatives:
- Non-toxic beeswax crayons
- Water-based markers
- Plant-based glue
- Recycled filler paper
- Recycled chipboard binders (If you buy plastic binders, look for PVC-free.)
- Natural hand sanitizer
- Recycled fabric backpack
2.) Healthy Sleep Routine
Good sleep is critical for both kids and parents! Yet sleep routines can be one of the hardest things to change – especially when the long summer days are still with us. Here are some tips to help ensure an easy transition to a healthy sleep routine for the school year:
- Move kids bedtimes earlier gradually – no one likes sudden drastic change.
- Encourage exercise during the day to ensure kids are tired by bedtime.
- Avoid screens and other stimulating activity for at least an hour before bed.
- Establish a new bedtime routine for the school year including reading or quiet play time before bed.
- Limit food and drink before bed to avoid late night bathroom trips.
PRO TIP: Use Natrol Melatonin for both kids and adults to help with occasional sleeplessness when other strategies don’t work.*
- Natrol has recently launched a gently formulated Kids Melatonin product to help safely and effectively promote restful sleep. It’s recommended for kids ages four and up.
- Natrol Kids Melatonin comes in two kid-friendly forms – Fast Dissolve tablets and Kids Melatonin Gummies. They are non-GMO, vegetarian and free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. (Talk to your pediatrician before starting any supplements.)
- Natrol Melatonin for adults also comes in Fast Dissolve tablets and Gummies. The strawberry flavored Fast Dissolve tablets are my personal go-to.
- Natrol Melatonin is 100% drug-free and non-habit forming.
3.) Non-Toxic Lunch Gear
It may be tempting to buy the cheapest lunchboxes and other lunch gear but I don’t recommend it for a couple reasons: 1.) Cheap gear falls apart fast and likely won’t last more than one school year, and 2.) Some inexpensive lunch gear has been shown to contain lead, endocrine disrupting plastics and other harmful chemicals. Here’s what to look for instead:
- Avoid vinyl lunchboxes and look for durable, PVC and lead-free lunchboxes.
- Skip the cheap plastic sandwich containers and invest in durable stainless steel or glass containers.
- Stock up on reusable snack bags and ditch the wasteful plastic baggies.
- Send a safe, reusable stainless steel water bottle instead of plastic.
PRO TIP: Save money by purchasing reusable lunch gear off season and on sale!
4.) Healthy Packed Lunches
Healthy eating habits tend to take a tumble during the summer months – with extra snacks and treats from picnics, road trips, festivals and everything in between. Now’s the time to get back into a healthy routine and pack lunches that will keep kids full and focused during the school day. Here are some ideas for kid-friendly packed lunches:
- Healthy sandwich on whole grain bread or tortilla
- Leftovers in a thermos container
- Protein-packed snacks like hard-boiled eggs, nut butter with crackers or hummus with veggies
- Fruit and/or vegetables to munch on
- A low sugar granola bar or homemade cookie
- What to skip: juice drinks, candy and junky snacks
PRO TIP: Encourage kids to help pack their own lunch – they are less likely to complain if they do!
Here’s to a healthy back-to-school season!
*“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases.”