Balancing School, Work, Play and Family Life

children playing outside

Transitioning back to the school routine is challenging for your child, and you. Ensuring that your family is healthy, happy and performing well takes good habits and good health. We talked to both primary care and pediatric specialists at Premier Medical Group for facts that you may not often think about, but which can have a positive effect on children, as well as be of benefit to your whole family’s quality of life.

healthy school lunch

Balancing School and Nutrition

Most children in the US spend six to eight hours a day at school. Many of them eat one or two meals, plus snacks, while at school. According to the Center for Disease Control, children consume almost half their calories at school. Here are some more surprising facts:

  • Approximately 25% of children ages 2-8 years old in the United States are affected by health issues, such as asthma, obesity, other physical conditions, or behavior/learning problems.
  • 17% of youth aged two to 19 in the United States are obese
  • 40% of total daily calories for two to 18 year olds are empty calories from added sugars and solid fats

One solution to preventing obesity is to make sure that your child is introduced to lots of different foods. While they should have preferences, pandering to their demands for unhealthy food isn’t healthy for their future! Making sure that children have healthy snacks available instead of high salt, high fat selections makes sense. One of our primary care doctors gives the example of a mother who has children who don’t always want to eat their veggies at mealtime. So just before serving dinner, she presents them with a big bowl of steamed broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. They are hungry and wolf them down!

children structured play

Making Time for Play

It’s easy to think that our children are playing because they are sitting quietly watching the television, a tablet or other electronic devices. However, this is not true play – something that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that every child needs. 

The impact that access to playtime that doesn’t involve a screen, is important to child development. Play helps children develop language, spatial awareness, cognitive function, higher reasoning, emotional intelligence, imagination and socialization. The AAP says that ideally children need a minimum of 30 minutes of teacher or parent-guided play each day, and a least one hour of uncomplicated free playtime, indoors and outdoors!

How to Combine Being a Working Parent and an Engaged Parent

For many parents, the work/life balance is too often the work/life conflict. That leads to stress and the result of parenting while stressed is seldom happy. Being overworked, or overstressed affects your health, your temper and can lead to feelings of inadequacy that leads to… more stress! Author Anna Quindlen offers this perspective: “When in doubt, choose the kids. There will be plenty of time later to choose work.” While that may not be the case for everyone, It is important to remember that what children want most from their parents is a fair proportion of their parents’ time, and working tends to eat up time available for children.

time management for families

So how can a good parent solve this conundrum?  First of all, we can heed the words of businesswoman and author Arianna Huffington: “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” This is a case where having a firm schedule can be reassuring to both parents and their children. If you are going to help with homework, watch your child play sports or a game, or share time watching a video together, put it on the calendar and do your very best to live up to the commitment you have made to your child. Meeting a child’s expectations and delivering on your promises reduces stress and unhappiness throughout the family. It is also important to remember that nobody is perfect. By doing your best and doing what you promised, increases the trust level between you and your child, and promotes a happier, healthier home life.