Healthy Habit Tips For Families

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With busy schedules and limited time, it can be challenging to get your family to practice healthy habits, but we have found that our illness ratio decreases when we work together as a family to make good health habits a priority.  Here are some tips that have worked well (most of the time anyway) for our family that you may want to try with your own busy bunch....

*Healthy Habit #1 - Daily Vitamin -- I found teen specific brands that I like and a lot of my friends have asked me which ones I give to my teens.  I buy the Enhanced Energy Teen Stay Sharp Multivitamin with 32 Ecoganic Foods for my 16-year-old boy.  These vitamins are pretty big, so make sure your child is old enough to swallow a big pill, which most teens can handle by 16.  I buy this brand at Sprouts Farmers Market and this vitamin is a blend of three servings of fruits and veggies that are supposed to help with memory and concentration.

For my girl, I buy Michael's Teen Girls Tabs Daily Multi Vitamin and this brand has vitamin and herb supplements that are vegetarian and kosher tablets.  It delivers vitamins A, C, D, E and the B-complex along with minerals and more. These vitamin is also made with a proprietary blend that features essential fatty acids and herbs and it contains no dairy, wheat, gluten, yeast, sugar or any artificial ingredients. 

*Healthy Habit #2 - Time Management -- Time management is a big one because when the kids are learning how to properly manage their time, they get to bed on time and feel more in control and less stressed.  A couple of tips here.  First we use the cool Taylor Classic Slim Timer that times up to 99 minutes and 59 seconds.  I like that it has a magnet on the back, so we keep it on the fridge, so when one of my kids has to prepare a timed oral presentation or practice for a timed test, this handy little timer is easily located.  My daughter uses it to give herself breaks in between homework sessions.  She sets it for 20 minutes and does something fun and then gets right back to her studies.  This has worked well for us.

The second tip is to give your kids a planner that is their own to manage, keep and post.  We use the family Cozi.com online calendar (the one I showed in last week's segment) to merge our family's multiple calendars, but my kids both like to have their own written planner.  Plus it is a good idea to have schedules written down for backup in case your electronic devices malfunction.  Some schools now provide planners to students, which is very cool and helpful.  My girl likes to use the pretty flowered notebook calendar that is called the Dotmine Day Planner that goes from August 2014 to December 2015.  Dotmine Day Planners are chic and trendy and are perfect for students of all ages (and great for moms too to keep their kids’ school and activities in order).  These planners go for 17 months from August through December and they're reasonably priced from $15.99 to $32.99 at www.timemine.com.

*Healthy Habit #3 - Sleep - This seems obvious but my daughter recently asked me just how much sleep is recommended for her age group and the answered surprised me, so I thought I would share the recommended sleep for kids and teens, which I found on the National Sleep Foundation website....

*Children aged five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep.

*Teens need on average 9 1/4 hours of sleep

My tween and I were both surprised to see that teens need more sleep than adults.  Something else to keep in mind for your teens that are 16 and older is that sleep deprivation can result in drowsy driving and that is quite unsettling to consider.

*Healthy Habit #4 -- Practice Good Dental Hygiene -- This may seem like a no brainer, but my gal pal and I were just talking about this the other day.  She discovered that her son had not been flossing at all even though he told her that he flossed every day.  As the kids get older, it is natural for us to stop micro-managing and we should be teaching them to be responsible about taking care of themselves.  But do occasional dental checks to see if they are really brushing and flossing.

Several years ago my daughter had several questionable dental checkups and we had to miss school to have cavities filled.  Once she really started flossing daily, it was amazing how much her appointments improved with not one cavity since.  Provide cool tools to help encourage them to get the nightly dental job done.  Here are some of our favorites...DenTek Wild Fruit Fun Flosser, which provides a handle to reach the back teeth and fits kids' hands.  DenTek Soft Looney Tunes for toddlers starting at age 3.  Believe me, start this good health habit early!  And for the teens, give them the DenTek Floss Picks + Case to keep in their backpack for flossing on the go.  If something sugary is stuck in the gum, that will definitely contribute to cavities, so the faster they can get that out, when they on the go, the better.

I also only buy my kids gum that is sugarless and contains xylitol, which actually helps to prevent cavities.  Trident has a bubble gum flavored gum that is sugarless and contains the xylitol.

And set the example, parents.  Monkey see, monkey do is really true with our kids.  Make sure they see you flossing and brushing every night.  I found an awesome earth friendly toothbrush line called Woobamboo.  The brush handle is biodegradable and it is made from sustainable bamboo and packaged in recyclable materials.  I love green companies that provide good products.  Woobamboo tooth brushes can be ordered at www.woobamboo.com

*Healthy Habit #5 - Skin Care -- My daughter and many of her friends suffer from eczema and I think it is in part due to the super dry climate we live in.  We see a dermatologist several times a year to not only have my girl's skin examined to see how the eczema is improving, but to also check her moles, since we live in Phoenix and our state has a high rate of skin cancer cases.  Encourage your kids to slather lotion on as soon as they bathe or get out of the shower.  Applying to damp skin increases the absorption.  Our pediatrician recommends the Aveeno line and we really like that.

For eczema spots, try dabbing a little Toe Juice with DermaVine on the spot.  This cool plant based, non greasy, fast drying liquid is sold at Walgreens and was invented by a chemistry teacher for his own children's skin ailments,  It is a gentle and soothing blend of natural plant extracts that includes willow bark, lemon peel and Cinnamonum extracts.  Toe Juice also offers a Toe Juice Skin Refreshing Toner which is a great one for teens going through puberty to splash on their feet or under the arms to refresh skin during the stinky puberty years.  Toe Juice also just launched a Toe Juice Body Line that has aloe Vera and Vitamin E included in the new product.  The Toe Juice Body Line is only sold at the website for now at www.toejuice.com.

*Healthy Habit #6 - Proactive First Sign Treatment -- I call it this because several doctors have complimented my kids on the fact that they usually tell me early on when they don't feel well.  Not all kids do this because they either blow it off or are worried that they may miss an upcoming big event.  Talk to your kids about telling you at the first sign if they aren't feeling right.  We now have a routine that we practice at the first sign of illness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the common cold is the number one reason why children miss school.  So when that first sniffle or cold like feeling comes on, I give my kids extra Vitamin C and my favorite Boiron Homeopathic medicine, that my kids also like, called Oscillococcinum.  The quick dissolving pellets help to relieve cold symptoms and are tasty, so kids will let these dissolve in the mouth.  Boiron also has several other helpful homopathic products that include Boiron Children's ColdCalm and Borion Children's Chestal.  For a cough, the Chestal is a dye-free, non-drowsy syrup that includes real honey and works for kids ages 3 and up.  The medicine relieves nasal and chest congestion, cough, runny nose, sneezing and a minor sore throat.  The ColdCalm gives a runny nose relief.  Borion products are sold at Healthy Habit, Whole Foods stores and at Sprouts Farmers Market locations.

*Healthy Habit #7 -- Stay hydrated.  This is such an easy one to overlook.  My mother tells me (even now in my late 40s) that if I'm feeling thirsty, then I'm already dehydrated!  When kids get dehydrated it can result in fatigue, headache, muscle weakness and more, so we do need to pay attention to our kids' water consumption.  Sodas, fruit juice and sports drinks do not replace water, which the body needs.  My daughter and I have both been trying to be more aware and to drink more water.  One little tip I taught her to do is to take three sips each time she takes a drink of water.  This is so simple and it makes it easier to get through an entire bottle or glass of water as we try to meet our daily quota.  I looked up water quotas for kids and several different medical articles provided this same recommended daily chart:

1 - 3 years about 4 cups

4 - 8 years about 5 cups

9-13 years about 8 cups for boys and about 7 cups for girls

14-18 years about 11 cups for boys and about 10 cups for girls

Get your child a good water bottle and make sure that they are truly drinking it throughout the day.  I like the Contigo Autoseal Kids’ Gracie Water Bottle for my kids because it is 100 percent spill-proof with technology that automatically seals between sips to prevent leaks and spills.  My kids simply press the “AUTOSEAL” button to drink.  I also like the protective spout cover that protects the spout from dirt and germs and the cool clip-on handle that can easily attach to backpacks, bags, gear and more.  The AUTOSEAL sells at www.GoContigo.com for $11.99.

And of course make sure your kids are getting fruits and veggies every day in their meals.  I didn't cover food this time since my last few articles have been all about food.  What healthy habit and helpful product ideas do you practice to keep your family in the best shape possible?  Share here in the comments section and be sure to check my blog at www.managedmoms.com for more healthy family tips, recipes and more.  Be well out there!