August 27th, 2014

5 Healthy Back-to-School Tips For Families

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Groovy Green Livin Healthy Back-to-School

The countdown has begun. Only a few days left until it’s back-to-school. How did that happen?

At dinner tonight my ten year old announced that this was his best summer ever. Overcome with emotion, I nodded in agreement. It really was the best summer ever.

Next summer has tough shoes to fill. Once the snow returns I’ll be planning and dreaming. In the meantime we’re bracing for the back-to-school frenzy that’s about to enter our care-free lives.

To help with the back-to-school transition here are a few tips to keep your family healthy and sane

Get enough sleep

A few years ago we tried transitioning to a back-to-school schedule before school began. That didn’t work. Now we dive in head first the evening before the first day of school. I’m a bit worried this year about my kids nodding off in school since our schedules are so irregular at the moment.  

Do your kids get enough sleep? Here’s some interesting info from the National Institute of Health:

  • Sleep Facts: School-aged children and teens need at least nine hours of sleep a night. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. I need a solid eight to feel human.
  • Sleep Tips: Set a sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up the same times each day. Keep room temperature on the cool side. A TV or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction.

Pack a waste-free  and healthy lunch

Children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school. That’s a lot of waste.

Making a lunch box zero-waste through the use of reusable products will minimize the amount of garbage kids create through their school lunch.

Check out some of my favorite waste-free products HERE.

Lunch boxes and toxic chemicals don’t belong together. Unfortunately some lunchboxes are releasing toxic dust into our children’s lunchbox food. Thankfully not all lunch boxes are toxic. HERE are a few safe lunch box choices for everyone in the family.

Make healthy choices when it comes to snacks and treats in your child’s lunch.

  • Don’t buy individually packaged snacks i.e. fruit cups, single serving cookies, chips and crackers. There is a lot of wasted packaging and the cost per item is much more expensive than buying in bulk.
  • We try to buy organic when we can. Remember Organic doesn’t always mean healthy. There are organic foods out there that that are processed, contain lots of sugar and are unhealthy.

Sub out toxic back-to-school supplies

If  a school supply list is specific and asks for a product that could be harmful to my child or other children I  have no problem deviating from the list.  For example I always send in a safe alternative to alcohol based hand sanitizer.

Eat brain food

It’s so simple to add a few foods bursting with brain fuel to the weekly menu. Try adding blueberries, salmon, broccoli and lentils.

Choose a safe backpack

Children’s vinyl “back‐to‐school” supplies (including backpacks) have been found to contain elevated levels of phthalates, hazardous chemicals that have been banned in toys, yet remain widespread in vinyl back‐to‐school supplies.

Vinyl backpacks could also contain high levels of lead, which can wipe off onto children’s hands and ultimately end up in the child’s mouth.

HERE are a few safe preschool backpack suggestions and HERE are my picks for safe elementary school backpacks.

So are you ready for back-to-school?


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photo credit: Gerry Dincher via photopin cc

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17 Responses to “5 Healthy Back-to-School Tips For Families”

  1. Getting enough sleep is the one we have to work on. I don’t know what it is about bedtime, but my boys fight going to bed all the way!

  2. I love the tip to eat brain food! The only one my kids will eat are blueberries – bring on the blueberries!

  3. Us too Robin. We have no schedule. My kids went to bed at 10:30 last night. Next week is going to be rough.

  4. Excellent tips! We are definitely working on sleep for my daughter who would love to stay up late reading!
    Elena recently posted..Get Kids Talking With Three Good ThingsMy Profile

  5. We are entering the official school world this year with our soon to be Kindergartener. We are diving in head first too!
    Emily @Random Recycling recently posted..Don’t Lose It! Label it with Mabel’s Labels. {Giveaway}My Profile

  6. If you can figure out how to stop a 2 1/2 year old from constantly waking us up every single night from the moment he was born then all the power to you and I’ll finally get a good night’s sleep. Easy to say, hard to do.
    Drew Bennett recently posted..Press Release: Slugterra Return of the Elementals to be Released September 16, 2014My Profile

  7. […] continue reading this post → […]

  8. I’d like to hear more about toxins in school supplies. We’ve never deviated from the specified list as we place an order for our supplies through the school.

  9. Great tips here! My 6-month-old is a great sleeper. Fingers crossed that that continues!

  10. Bring on the blueberries Annie! We love them over here too.

  11. It’s so hard to tell them to turn off the light when they’re reading. Happens over here too…

  12. Thanks Jane. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. Sleep is so key!

  13. Hi Pilar, Our school just started offering that this year too. Certainly makes it simple! I always send in safe hand sanitizer-that doesn’t contain Triclosan and safe wipes. Some of the wipes the schools suggest contain bleach. I have a lot of articles about this on my site if your interested in reading more. Or shoot me an email.

  14. So sorry Drew. I’ve been there. The good news is all three of my boys are finally amazing sleepers. Hang in there!

  15. Congrats Emily! How exciting. Best of luck to all of you.

  16. Thanks for all the great tips and I was astounded by the stats of how much garbage is generated by lunches! We’re a waste-free lunch family and it drives me bonkers to see how much trash is thrown away by kids at our school when I visit during lunch time. I’m definitely going to be sharing this with fellow parents! Thanks!
    Leticia- Tech Savvy Mama recently posted..#Blogust: Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter as She Fundraises to Support Her First CauseMy Profile

  17. So many helpful tips and resources, Lori…thanks for sharing! Happy to hear your family had such a treasured summer…that goes a long way. :)

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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