After a hectic academic year, packed with school runs, afterschool activities, playdates, homework and more, it is a welcome change to slow down and take a bit of a breather in the holidays.
If you are lucky enough to be able to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock and relax a bit on bath and bedtime routines, then thank your lucky stars.
With a long summer ahead, however, and the likelihood of international travel, living out of suitcases and holidays with obliging family and friends, maintaining some semblance of a routine is important to ensure everyone stays healthy and happy.
According to Areen Abuhejleh, nutritionist and programmes marketing executive at Daman, a little forward planning can help shape the summer.
“Create some healthy competition,” she recommends. “Even little kids can get involved with setting up a leaderboard where the whole family can earn points for getting up at a reasonable time, eating a good breakfast, winding down at a nice pace for bedtime and so on. This can be managed by parents and a points collection programme can go a long way to ensuring it is successful.”
Abuhejleh also advocates some child-led activities to while away the hot afternoons, including DIY crafts or learning how to cook healthy but tasty recipes. If your kids are allocated screen time, they could put it to good use by searching and downloading some healthy meal planners.
Holiday travel can often put a spanner in the works when it comes to eating healthily. So, Abuhejleh offers some tips on how to avoid the stodgy processed meals or sugar-laden quick fixes that often accompany journeys with little ones.
“Pack small meals ahead of time, such as vegetable sticks, fruits and small sandwiches on wholegrain bread,” she says. “Just take into consideration the danger zone for certain products and only bring food items that don’t go bad within three hours. Also, be aware of portion size and keep hydrated with lots of water.”
Holidays and snacking often go hand in hand, but it helps to be smart when giving the kids a little treat. “Remove extra toppings, avoid cream, look for snacks that contain more fruit,” says Abuhejleh. “Sharing a snack reduces the size and intake. It’s also nice to see younger children learning to share.”
And what about the seemingly never-ending supply of treats which are often dispensed by loving grandparents, aunties and uncles during home visits? Abuhejleh acknowledges that it can prove difficult to avoid them, especially when some hosts might deem it rude for skipping the offer.
“If this happens once a week, no pressure, just make sure it is consumed earlier during the day, because it can cause hyperactivity and disturb children’s sleeping routine,” she says. “You could also try and replace a sugary treat with a toy or any small, non-edible gift or ask the giver if you could replace it with a healthier option.”
This summer needn’t be one of excess. Just make sure you keep those snack boxes packed with healthy treats.