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As students head back to school, families may find themselves struggling to adjust to new schedules. Getting up early, eating a healthy breakfast, packing a healthy lunch, and getting to school on time? What a change from the long, lazy days of summer!  Adding homework and after school activities into the mix, it’s no wonder parents find themselves looking for a moment to gather their thoughts and take a breath.

Charles County Public Library has many great resources to help families manage their time, health, and stress.  MedlinePlus is the National Institute of Health’s Website and is available through CCPL’s Web site.  Click on “Research and Learn” then “Research and Databases” to access MedlinePlus – Health Information from the National Library of Medicine.  A quick search on MedlinePlus – Health Information from the National Library of Medicine uncovers dozens of articles on managing stress, nutrition, the benefits of getting enough sleep and exercise, and more. 

Scale Down Stress with Physical Activity

Busy family schedules can result in increased stress. Manage Stress – MyHealthfinder | health.gov suggests ways for parents and families to cope with increased demands on their time.  NIMH » 5 Things You Should Know About Stress describes different kinds of stress and provides helpful tips for stress management, including exercising, setting goals, and prioritizing tasks.  Both resources emphasize the following:  planning and prioritizing, staying active, and eating well.  For those who need more convincing, see Benefits of Exercise as well as MedlinePlus Exercise for Children which recommends an hour of physical activity each day for children.  Detailed information about recommended physical activity levels is available in Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition

Sleep Sense

Starting each day well-rested sets the tone for the day.  Depending on age, health, and lifestyle, different people need different amounts of sleep.  Of particular concern is the amount of sleep teens get due to early school start times.  Review MedlinePlus Healthy Sleep for tips on improving your sleep habits which can lead to happier and more productive days and healthier lives.  

Nutrition Notes 

After a good night’s sleep, a nutritious breakfast is the next step to having a great day.  See Mayo Clinic’s Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options for easy breakfast tips to refuel your body and jumpstart your day.  

A healthy lunch is just what students need to recharge for an afternoon of learning.  Have children help pack lunches the night before to cut down on the morning rush.  Include foods such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, as described in NIH’s Better Nutrition Every Day.   Don’t forget to include healthy after school snacks for students who have an extended day due to after school activities.  

Conclude the day with a healthy dinner. MedlinePlus’s Healthy Recipes has dozens of ideas (for breakfast, lunch, and snacks too!) and details out prep and cook times for easy meal planning.  Completing the prep portion of a menu ahead of time allows busy families to put together a healthy meal more quickly.   According to Eating habits and behaviors, a final tip to assist in serving well-balanced meals each evening is to plan the weekly menu ahead of time.

For many parents, keeping your busy family healthy is a priority.  Visit CCPL in person or online to Engage, Discover, and Learn more ways to achieve this goal!

For Further Reading

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD

The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert–Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab–reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better. Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don’t sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life–eating, drinking, and reproducing–the purpose of sleep remained elusive. An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. 

The Well Plated Cookbook by Erin Clarke

Known for her incredibly approachable, slimmed-down, and outrageously delicious recipes, Erin Clarke is the creator of the smash-hit food blog in the healthy-eating blogosphere, Well Plated by Erin. Clarke’s site welcomes more than 3 million visitors a month, and with good reason: her recipes are fast, budget-friendly, and clever; she never includes an ingredient you can’t find in a regular supermarket or that isn’t essential to a dish’s success, and she hacks her recipes for maximum nutrition by using the ‘stealthy healthy’ ingredient swaps she’s mastered so that you don’t lose an ounce of flavor. In this essential cookbook for everyday cooking, Clarke shares more than 130 brand-new rapid-fire recipes, along with secrets to lightening up classic comfort favorites inspired by her midwestern roots, and clever recipe hacks that will enable you to put a healthy meal on the table any night of the week.

The Core Program by Peggy W. Brill

Outlines an exercise program for women designed to develop and strengthen the body’s core muscles, including the back, hip, and abdominal muscles; and to achieve general well-being.

25 Lessons in Mindfulness by Rezvan Ameli

Presents a practical, step-by-step approach for establishing your own mindfulness practice.

Yum! Healthy Bento Box Lunches for Kids by Sherrie Le Masurier

Back-to-school means back-to-lunch-boxes, and the daily quandary of what to put in them. Two working moms offer creative ideas for balanced lunches and nutritious snacks that will make packing lunch a joy and not a chore.This version of the book is illustrated in full color. Yum! Healthy Bento Box Lunches for Kids’ is a handy digest guide of creative ideas for parents of preschoolers and primary grade children. Discover how healthy eating can be simple and straightforward once you have the right tools and ingredients. Gain insight into typical serving sizes, eating organic and using leftovers. Find solutions for picky eaters as well as how to best organize and store your tools.