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Fitness and family health

September 12, 2019

8 ways to stay in the summer spirit this fall

Fall is here, but it doesn’t mean you need to stop enjoying the outdoors with your family.

A lot of us think of September as a fresh start. We make plans to hit reset and get back on track with healthy eating, family chores and productive habits.

But September also gets busy. The kids head back to school and our calendars fill up. Here are a few tips to keep living like it’s summer.

1. Start some new habits

“Make it a priority to set aside time just for family activities – on Saturdays, for example. You could pick apples, rake leaves, go for a bike ride orenjoy a family swim at the pool. “Get the kids involved by asking them for ideas,” says Francine Ferland, occupational therapist and author of several works, including Viens jouer dehors! (Let’s Play Outside!), (Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine).

2. Reconsider your schedule

Families love having free time in the summer. Keep it going by dropping some of the things that normally fill your schedule during the school year. Try to add some free time by being selective about extracurricular activities. “You have to stick with it, and that’s where planning comes in. Otherwise, it’s easy to get swamped by the flood of options,” says Sonia Couture, educator and family coach.  When deciding whether an activity is worth the effort, weigh the pros and cons. Will it mean running around after work? Do your children want to do it? Your answers should tell you which activities are worth your time.

3. Put fun on the agenda

Some families start their “5 to 9” with a little fun time. “Even before you start supper, dance to some high-energy music, or play a game together? Kids will enjoy time spent with their parents. Stress will melt away and everyone can then move on to something else,” says Ferland.

4. Keep moving after work and school

Once you arrive home, it can be challenging to get out again for some physical activity. Try to get moving before you even get home. Walk to school to pick up the kids, go to the park or play in some leaves before supper.

5. Eat healthy, seasonal foods

You might have eaten more fruits and vegetables in the summer. Try to find ways to keep it up after school starts. “Meal planning is key. It saves you time when you’re grocery shopping. You’ll have everything on hand when you’re getting meals ready!” says Couture.  Meal planning also helps you stick to a budget. Fall is also a great time to take advantage of local produce, which is often less expensive.

6. Address your stress

You don’t want to make it to the end of the day thinking “I didn’t have time.”  Try to make a habit to relax in shorter breaks. Often times, 10 minutes of calm is all you need to catch your breath and lower your blood pressure. “Remember, it’s quality, not quantity!” adds Couture.

7. Reset your priorities

“Get the family together and set your priorities according to your actual needs. Check in on what’s going well and what’s been a challenge.See where you can make adjustments,” explains Sonia Couture. If your child enjoys karate but two nights per week is too much, look for a school that offers classes on Saturday mornings.

8. Catch up on sleep

Sleep is precious. Lots of us stay up a little later during the summer holidays. Now is the time to get back into a healthy sleep routine. “It’s important to relax for one hour before bedtime. Dim the lights, shut off devices and put on some quiet music. Take a moment to chat with the kids to see how their day went. Help them deal with any frustrations or worries that might keep them awake.” Sonia Caron concludes.

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