How to keep kids healthy, hydrated and happy while home-schooling

 05 May 2020

With the outbreak of COVID-19 we are all facing a new reality – and who knows just how long it will last. For many of us, that means working from home, video calls with loved ones and home cooked meals for the foreseeable future.

In addition, many students across New Zealand are staying at home to conduct their schooling as we enter term two. There have been reports that schools in some states will begin a phased return to face-to-face learning from next week, however the situation is still touch and go. For many schools – in the early days students will be on campus only a couple of days a week, and priority will be given to students in their final years.

While there are promising early signs of a return to a more normal way of life, families may still be learning and working under the one roof for a while yet – which will continue to bring a new set of challenges. No longer can we rely on the school day to burn our kid’s energy, it’s now up solely up to parents to keep children healthy, learning, engaged and entertained.

So how can we keep them from bouncing off the walls? And how do we help our kids establish some sort of routine and stay healthy when the world as we knew it seems like a distant memory?

We’re here to help! Here are our top tips for parents on how to keep the kids healthy, hydrated and happy while they’re home from school.

Make good old-fashioned lemonade

Not only is old-fashioned lemonade a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks that will help children stay hydrated, it’s a great afternoon activity that will engage the kids and that the whole family can enjoy. Hydration is an especially important health consideration at this time, as experts say that even mild hydration can negatively impact mood, focus, memory, motor coordination, and even leave us more susceptible to anxiety.  

To make great tasting, old-fashioned lemonade – follow these simple steps:

  • Mix 6 cups of cold water, 2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved
  • Refrigerate for 3 hours
  • Serve lemonade over ice – garnish with a slice of lemon and mint leaves
Pro tip: For an even healthier alternative, consider replacing sugar with sweetener, like agave nectar, coconut sugar, or stevia.

See an extensive list of healthier sugar alternatives here.

 

Set up an at-home mocktail bar

Once you’ve conquered the old-fashioned lemonade recipe and you’re ready to try something a little more adventurous, then you could move onto making mocktails – which are water and fruit-based alternatives to their alcoholic counterparts. Again, these are a fun and healthy option for helping kids to stay hydrated.

One particularly refreshing sparkling water based mocktail is the coconut pomegranate mojito mocktail by nutritionist Jessica Spiro, which is a delicious mix of fresh mint leaves, pomegranate juice, lime juice, coconut water and sparkling water.

You can follow these simple steps to make your own version at home:

  • Muddle 1/4 cup mint with 1 juiced lime in bowl and add to glass
  • Add ¼ cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
  • Add a ¼ cup of coconut water and finish with sparkling water
Pro tip: Freeze coconut water and pomegranate arils to create flavoured ice to add an extra kick!
You could even consider taking it a step further and creating a mocktail bar (think resort themed to capture those holiday vibes at home), which would keep the kids (of all ages!) entertained for hours on end.

See this Town and Country Magazine article for the 40 best mocktail recipes for the kids to work through while home from school.

 

Get a good night sleep

As well as drinking enough water, getting enough sleep helps you feel healthy, focused and happy. This is especially important for many New Zealand kids who are staying home from school, particularly as parents try and keep them productive in an unfamiliar learning environment.

Routine is paramount to ensuring kids are getting enough sleep each night. Try these top tips to get a better night sleep:

  • Get up and go to bed at the same time everyday
  • Remove distractions like phones, TVs and iPads from bedrooms
  • Exercise daily by going for a walk in the sun

Help kids manage feelings of uncertainty and anxiety

For all parents, their children’s health and happiness is always their top priority. This is only intensified as we muddle our way through these uncertain times.

At this time, children may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety, particularly adolescent children who are in their later years of schooling. According to the New York Times, parents can play a role in easing their children’s anxiety in five tangible ways:

  • Normalise anxiety by assuring children it’s expected to be feeling like this
  • Offer perspective on whether their issue is of genuine concern
  • Shift the spotlight by making them aware of other people’s challenges
  • Encourage distraction through homework, exercise or entertainment
  • Set an example by managing your own anxiety
So there you have it, our top tips for parents on how to keep the kids healthy, happy and engaged while they’re home from school. These are unprecedented and difficult times we find ourselves in – so anything we can do to try and maintain our health and happiness is essential at this time.