Health and Parenting

Raising fit Kids: Mood

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sleeping child and alarm clock
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6 a.m. -- Banish Your Snooze Button

Does your family always need “just 10 more minutes?" Did you know that extra snoozing may be leaving you less rested?

Short, disrupted sleep cycles can make you and your kids groggy. Instead, pick a wake-up time and make sure you and your kids stick to it -- even on the weekends. (The same goes for your bedtime at night.) A consistent sleep schedule will make mornings easier.

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plank exercise
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6:30 a.m. -- Plank It Out

Start your day on a fit note with one exercise that strengthens your whole body: the dolphin plank.

Lie flat on your stomach, and then push yourself up onto your elbows and your toes. You want your back straight, abs tight, and forearms on the ground. Hold your neck straight, too. Work your way up to holding it for 1 minute.

You can do the plank almost anywhere (beside your bed, on the bath mat, in front of the TV). Plus, it's easy for kids to learn. Get them planking in the morning, too.

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egg on toast with strawberry
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7 a.m. -- Break for Breakfast

Breakfast has so many benefits! Eating well early in the day gives you fuel for your body and your mind. Plus, it can help you feel satisfied enough to say no to unhealthy snacks later on. 

The best breakfasts have a protein-carb combo. Try an egg on whole wheat toast, almond butter spread on an apple, or low-fat yogurt with fresh berries.

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commuter listening to music
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8:30 a.m. -- Relax on Your Commute

Finding times throughout your day to relax is an important part of being healthy. Surprisingly, your commute is a good place to start.

Join a carpool, or take the bus or train. Then, you may be able to read or listen to music to relax. Or can you work flexible hours to avoid peak traffic, or telecommute one day each week?

Every little bit of stress management matters. So teach your kids to find small moments during the day to chill, too.

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businessman relaxing in park
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Noon -- Recharge During Lunch

Relaxing will help you regain energy so you can be mindful of the choices you make. Use your lunch break to eat and take a sanity break, even if it's short. Go for a walk around the block. Or find a private spot and feel yourself breathe for a few minutes to get refreshed.

At home, teach your kids these stress-busting tricks and the importance of relaxing to re-energize and refocus.

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woman eating peanut butter on apple
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3:30 p.m. -- Snack Smart

Avoid the high-sugar trap of candy or the vending machine when your blood sugar drops mid-afternoon. At work, keep healthy snacks at your desk or in a bag. At home, make healthy afternoon snacks available for your kids.

Choose a combo of protein and carbs to give you a slow release of energy. Think apple slices and peanut butter, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese cubes, or small containers of veggies and hummus. 

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mother and daughter walking
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5:30 p.m. -- When You Get Home, Take It Outside

You book time for meetings, business trips, doctor visits, and parent-teacher conferences. Make family exercise time just as important by putting it on your calendar, too.

One easy option that works for every age: a family walk. Start by scheduling a half-hour walk around the neighborhood at least 3 nights a week. Try it as soon as everyone gets home or right after dinner. (The dishes can wait!)

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family dinner
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6:30 p.m. -- Fit in Family Dinner

Family mealtimes have all kinds of benefits for your kids. Research shows that the more meals a family shares together, the better off kids are emotionally, and they're less likely to be overweight.

How to make a family dinner happen? It may mean saying no to a few other items in your schedule. Do you need to be on that committee? Does your child need to play three sports? Just remember how good family dinner is for you all in the long run.

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child helping with chores
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7 p.m. -- Mind Your Chores

Nighttime is time to wind down for a good night’s sleep. Many people say meditation helps them relax.

Try "mindfulness meditation" with your evening chores. Teach your kids that whether you're washing dishes, folding laundry, or picking up stuff, focus all your attention on your task. Turn off the TV or other distractions.

Be fully present in the moment -- don’t think about what’s next or tomorrow. Being present is mindfulness, and it may help ease your stress.

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father and sun playing on floor
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7:30 p.m. -- Be a Kid

Take 15 minutes every evening to get down on the floor and play with your kids. Focus on them and nothing else: not your smartphone, not the TV.

If all your contact with your kids is about screen time, homework, chores, and getting in and out of the house, you'll all be drained, stressed, and unhappy.

Plus, turning off screens at least an hour before bed can help everyone fall asleep easier. The bright light from the screen stops your brain from making you sleepy.

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couple sleeping
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Give Yourself a Bedtime

When you have healthy sleep habits, you model good examples for your kids to follow. Plus, a lack of sleep makes it hard to make healthy choices to eat right and be physically active. Our bodies respond best to a reliable sleep schedule, rather than staying up late some nights and waking up late on weekends.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 8/27/2017 Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 27, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

36CommutingSolutions.org.
American Psychological Association: "Overwhelmed by Workplace Stress? You're Not Alone."
Chiesa, A. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2009.
Christian, T. Journal of Urban Health, October 2012.
De Castro, J. Journal of Nutrition, January 2004.
Elgar, F. Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2013.
Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine: "Sleep and Health," "Adopt Good Sleep Habits."
Kristin McGee, ACE certified personal trainer and creator of Bendigirl Yoga.
Letsmove.gov: "Make Physical Activity a Part of Your Family's Routine."
Liu, J. Early Human Development, April 2013.
Maimonides Medical Center: "The Snooze Button: Friend or Foe?"
Debi Silber, MS, RD, personal trainer and lifestyle coach, author, A Pocket Full of Mojo: 365 Proven Strategies To Create Your Ultimate Body, Mind, Image and Lifestyle.
Stephanie Somanchi, PhD, MBA, life coach, Portland, OR.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 27, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.