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Alas, we find ourselves in that all-too-familiar situation of wondering how summer is already coming to an end. (Anyone else feel like they were just at the bus drop-off last week?) Since September is right around the corner, it’s time to get things in order to keep your brood healthy and strong as they prepare for the new school year. According to registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet and MegaFood spokesperson, “No matter how busy our day gets, there are simple steps to take to ensure your family’s health is a top priority.” Ahead, five tips that’ll start you off on the right foot.

girl playing on swing set
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1. Continue to Encourage Outdoor Play

During the summer, playgrounds, bike rides and neighborhood games of tag come easy, but once the busy school schedule kicks in, activities tend to move indoors. Instead of accepting this change (and the TV marathons that come with it), continue to nudge your children to spend time outdoors, whether they go in the backyard or you make a point of taking them to the park (especially while the weather is still nice). It’ll keep their bodies moving and even promote a better night’s sleep (which we’ll get to in a bit).

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2. Stock the Medicine Cabinet with the Good Stuff

And by “good stuff” we mean vitamins. Gans recommends first trying to meet nutritional needs through a well-balanced diet. “However, even if we eat ‘perfectly,’ research has identified a decline in the nutrient composition of our food, so a high-quality multivitamin helps fill in those nutritional gaps,” she says. If you’re already thinking of creative ways to get your family to remember to take a daily vitamin, we’re one step ahead of you. MegaFood® supplements come in a variety of forms, and the Multivitamin Soft Chews can provide kiddos with a boost of antioxidants and vitamins for growth and development.* Not only are they extremely convenient (for parents too!) but they also taste like a fruity treat.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

family eating ice cream
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3. Don’t Forbid “Bad” Foods

When we’re told not to do (or eat) something, it only makes us want to do it more, right? For this reason, try not to put a negative label on certain junk foods. Of course, we’d never tell you that it’s OK to give your family potato chips and ice cream for dinner, but once in a while it’s nice to indulge. Tip: We suggest bringing special treats into the house only when appropriate (rather than stashing them in your pantry) in an effort to keep the nutritious snacks front and center.

kid blowing nose in tissue
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4. Teach Them About Hygiene Etiquette

Now that your kid is about to be back in the classroom, use these next few weeks to enforce some good habits while they’re with you every day. Think coughing or sneezing into their elbow (instead of your elbow) and reminding them to always wash their hands after using the restroom. Remember: They learn by example, so make sure you’re following suit, Mom.

dad and son brushing teeth
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5. Establish a Bedtime Routine

Children are creatures of habit, and summertime allows for a lot of leniency. Rather than waiting until the night before the first day of school to attempt to get your kids back on track, start making smaller (i.e., less noticeable) changes during the last few weeks of summer break. For example, begin enforcing an earlier bedtime so they’re not asking for ten more minutes of sleep in the morning. Once school is in session, switching back to their usual weekday wake time won’t be such a shock. Wondering how much sleep is necessary? According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-age children require 9 to 11 hours and preschoolers require 10 to 13 hours.

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