Being a mother of three kids, I have had my share of sleeplessness as night-duty nurse. A couple of times, I’ve had to rush one kid to the emergency room – unbathed, in house clothes, and honking the car all the way.
Really, having a sick child not only brings out the best (or worst) driver in me. It also drives me nuts.
But, thankfully, my kids are generally healthy. The episodes I talk about above have not occurred recently. And I hope it stays that way. Save for the regular visits to the allergologist with Nate and the occasional sniffles, my kids have not been to the doctor for any serious illness this year.
I think I am finally doing something right. Let me share with you how I try to keep my kids healthy.
1. Healthy and Nutritious Food. Sounds so cliche, right? But I think it really does pay to eat more fruits and veggies, less of the junk.
My youngest son, Nate, has skin asthma, and he is the primary reason why the family has decided to adopt a healthier diet.
A lot of the food that we used to eat – chocolates, chips, hotdogs, canned meats, food with artificial preservatives – caused skin allergies in him. His allergies were so severe that we finally decided earlier this year to ditch these allergy-inducing foods from our home diet.
My kids now eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – great sources of natural vitamins and minerals. I try to give them as much raw fruits as they want. Patch now eats fresh green salads with me! (Still need to work on convincing VGood that raw greens aren’t icky at all.) Instead of artificial juice drinks, they love to gulp down water and milk.
As for chips and chocolates? They are contrabands, reserved only for authorized use by authorized person/s. (Translation: The adults eat them only during extreme emergencies such as to cope with stress or during a PMS attack.)
My kids’ bodies were detoxified of all the artificial preservatives. For the most part, I think that is what keeps them in great health.
2. Active Play. I always tell my kids that my childhood was lots of fun because I had the great outdoors of Baguio City as my playground. My parents pretty much let me get all the play I wanted – rolling down hills and slopes, running in open fields, climbing up guava trees…
My kids won’t be able to enjoy these cheap luxuries anymore. So whenever there’s a chance, I bring them out and let them run, play, have fun. The air isn’t as clean as it used to be, but being out in the sun is better than playing virtual games on gadgets.
My eldest daughter, Patch, shows keen interest in sports. She has taken up volleyball lately, so hub and I show support for her new interest by buying gear and actually playing with her. Hey, it could be good for us too!
Active play has its benefits. It obviously makes bones and muscles stronger. It develops social skills as our children interact with others. Emotional skills are also enhanced as they learn to take turns or accept defeat during games.
Set aside a few minutes several times a week to play with your kids. You can take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood, or play tag. Choose toys that promote movement, such as bikes, balls, skipping ropes. Teach them the fun games you grew up with – Chinese garter, langit-lupa, freeze-and-melt… The list goes on.
3. Rest and Sleep. I think today’s children are silent sufferers of stress. And that’s a pity.
Already full with school work, some kids are ‘required’ by their own parents to have more extra-curricular activities. There’s nothing wrong with that. Parents’ reasons are almost always valid – to enhance the child’s personality, build confidence, improve social skills.
But, just like adults, kids need balance in life too. And, most especially, they need to rest. Sleep is the body’s natural way of renewing itself. Lack of sleep among kids can lead to poor performance and lack of focus in school.
Pre-schoolers need about 11 hours of sleep at night, while school-age kids need 9-10 hours. I let my kids go to bed before 9 P.M., whether we are done studying or not. (They’d be too tired after 9 PM, anyway, and any attempts to study beyond this time would be futile.) Wake-up time is 5:40 A.M. on school days, while I let them sleep in during weekends.
4. Vitamin Supplements. When Nate was less than a year old, he contracted amoebiasis. The pediatrician prescribed a vitamin C-zinc supplement in order to strengthen his gut and over-all immunity. He has been on it since then, and his amoebiasis has not recurred.
We all know the wonders of Vitamin C. A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C helps build immunity, protect against sicknesses, aids in tissue healing and growth. Zinc, on the other hand, is a mineral that builds immunity too. Studies have shown that zinc supplements effectively shortened the course of a cold.
Not all parents will agree about giving supplements, and I respect those who don’t. But personally, I do give my kids supplements, especially Vitamin C.
Nate gets multivitamins and vitamin C-Zinc doses everyday, while my two older daughters get chewable vitamin C tablets daily. Coupled with healthy diet, these are my ways of ensuring my kids are protected against illnesses.
5. Hygienic Practices. Since the threats of A(H1N1) became more real this year, I taught my kids basic hygiene practices – proper hand-washing, proper way of sneezing (on the upper arm sleeve and not into hands), not touching their faces, eyes and surfaces. I let my school-age girls bring alcohol in spritz bottles to school.
There are a lot of things that we as parents can do to ensure our kids are healthy. The important thing is building their immunity foundation even before sickness sets in. The adage “prevention is better than cure” may be old, but it will always be true.
Immunity Foundation is a new web resource for parents and caregivers about the importance of building children’s immunity. The site provides expert advice from pediatricians, as well as tips from parents like us. You can actually win prizes by sharing your tips. Register now to be able to share tips and receive newsletters.