Most parents know to keep healthy snacks, sunscreen and yard games around during the summer months. However, there are so many other things parents can do to ensure their kids have a safe, healthy summer. While these habits and lifestyle changes may be small, they’ll ultimately change your perspective on wellness and help you discover better ways to keep your kids healthy and happy. 

Cultivate healthy habits now by using these smart tips all summer long. 

1. Reapply Sunscreen

You already know that sunburns can increase your risk of developing cancer. That fact alone is enough to spray the kids with sunscreen. However, one application likely won’t be enough to protect your family if you’ll be outside for a few hours. 

Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating. Choose one with an SPF of at least 60 and wear protective clothing if the UV index is extra high. These additional precautions will prevent burns and subsequent skin damage. 

2. Manage Portions 

You serve all the right food groups so your kids have healthy options at mealtime. But are you paying attention to portion size? Generally, you should choose foods every day from the following :

  • Two to three cups of vegetables
  • One and a half to two cups of fruit
  • Five to eight cups of grains
  • Three cups of dairy
  • Five to six ounces of protein foods 
  • Five to seven teaspoons of fats and oils 

So, if you’re serving more macaroni and cheese than fruits and vegetables or your little ones are sneaking extra portions of the former, it’s time to focus on improving your plating. 

3. Take Care of Your Gut 

Good health starts in your stomach, and the same goes for your kids. That’s because your gut is home to millions of bacteria that form a microbiome. This group of microorganisms holds the key to digesting and utilizing food, a process that can affect your entire body. 

Therefore, it’s important that you care for your gut by eating fermented foods like Greek yogurt, sauerkraut and pickles. If your kids are picky eaters, try probiotic and prebiotic supplements instead. Regardless of how you go about boosting those good bacteria, you’ll surely experience a plethora of health benefits once you start prioritizing gut health. 

4. Stick to a Bedtime 

Most parents let their kids stay up late into the night during the summer months. However, children still need eight to 13 hours of sleep each night, depending on their age — and regardless of whether school is in session. 

Establish a bedtime for yourself and your kids and try to stick to it by developing a nighttime ritual. Waking up at the same time every morning may help, too. By the time this new schedule becomes routine, everyone will already be experiencing better sleep and happier, healthier outlooks. 

5. Don’t Forget to Floss 

While you’re at it, make flossing part of your family’s nightly routine. This simple yet oft-forgotten habit is crucial to your dental health and hygiene as it protects against plaque buildup and subsequent tooth decay. 

Teach your kids how to floss by modeling the behavior yourself. Younger kids might need extra help as they develop their fine motor skills. However, if you want to boost their independence, try having them use y-shaped floss picks. With a little practice and patience, they’ll soon be flossing their teeth all on their own. 

6. Try Mind-Body Exercises

Whether your family works out together or not, it’s important to incorporate mind-body exercises into your lives. These exercises will help you use your thoughts to gain influence over your body’s physical responses. With practice, your whole family may experience better sleep, less stress and a heightened sense of well-being. 

Try a few deep breathing exercises or meditate for a few minutes to develop and deepen this mind-body connection. Yoga, tai-chi and other similar traditions can be beneficial as well. Plus, they’re easy for kids to learn and practice. The more often and consistently they participate, the more apt you’ll be to see positive results. 

7. Take a Proactive Stance 

With more vaccines rolling out every day, now’s the perfect time to schedule your kids’ annual wellness check. This appointment will clue you into any underlying health issues so you can help your children make healthier life choices. 

Ask your pediatrician about routine inoculations and whether or not they recommend the COVID-19 vaccine. Remember to schedule any routine appointments afterward to get ahead of the wellness curve and take a more proactive stance on health care. 

Lead By Example 

The devil’s in the details and, if you want your family to stay healthy and active, you must take the lead. Your kids — and maybe even your spouse — often look to you for direction, so take charge and lead by example. Once they see you prioritizing sunscreen, sleep, gut health and the like, they’ll likely follow suit. With some practice and a little bit of luck, these healthy habits will stick with your little ones well into adulthood.