Keeping your family healthy during the winter season can be a challenge. Fighting the assault of bacteria, viruses, and bodily mishaps requires planning and strategy. Add preparing and celebrating for the holidays and your to-do list has quadrupled. The following tips cover basic steps necessary for healthy holidays and a happy new year.

Layer Clothing Adequately and Properly

Check the weather reports and plan outfits accordingly. Sending children to school with too many layers on when it’s warm can be just as detrimental to their health as not insulating them properly when it’s cold. In Southern California we’re very familiar with the concept of layering. We’re all moving in and out of varying temperatures throughout the day. We move from being inside in the warmth to outside where it can, believe it or not, actually become quite cold. Dressing in layers gives us the ability to adjust our clothing and acclimate our body temperature throughout the day to remain as comfortable as possible.

Children have a natural tendency to shed clothing when they get warm and sweaty from playing outside. Remind them that even if they are warm for the moment, they should keep on the appropriate amount of clothing for cooler weather, even while they’re playing.

Prepare Healthy and Hearty Meals

Meals should have a proper mix of vitamins and minerals to enhance the raw caloric value of food. This can be difficult to do, but keeping your family healthy is worth the extra effort. Try to take a few minutes out of every week to go over some healthy and hearty meal options with family members. Find and create recipes that everyone can enjoy to keep their caloric and nutrient intake optimal.

Get Plenty of Rest

Neglecting to get the proper amount of sleep can put strain on the body. During rest cycles, the body performs regular maintenance tasks it simply cannot do while awake. We often forget that winter is actually a time to slow down and relax. Our ancestors took note of the change in seasons, and when the sun went down, it was time to begin a restful evening. Children should aim for a full eight hours, whenever possible. Adults should aim for roughly six to eight hours of sleep. Also remember that oversleeping can weaken the immune system, so make it a regular habit to get everyone up at a reasonable hour on weekends.

Tip: Take note if someone in your family seems more tired than usual. This could be a sign that they’re fighting off a virus, or coming down with something. Ask them how they’re feeling (tell them to be specific). Increase their fluid intake and ensure they’re getting necessary vitamins through food or a healthy supplement to keep them healthy.

Stay Hydrated

Everyone should drink around eight glasses of water a day. A handy way for your family members to perform self-checks on hydration is to pay attention to the color of their urine. The more yellow the stream is, the more water they need to drink. Keep bottles of water handy in the car to make sure everyone stays hydrated throughout the day.

Teach and Communicate the Importance of Hygiene

Simple activities like washing hands after using the bathroom or playing outside become instrumental in preventing nasty germs that cause winter sickness. Kids are especially prone to skipping basic hygiene steps in their excitement to get back to playing. Make sure to reinforce proper scrubbing with warm water and soap. We wrote a fun blog about a science project you can do with your children to show them how germs spread. It offers a visual to help remind them to wash their hands often. Read more about it here [link to germ blog}.

No matter how diligent you are there’s always the likelihood a stray germ from work or school will find its way past all the defenses you’ve established for your family. When a family member is sick, all of the above steps should be enforced, especially for little ones. If the illness seems severe, a trip to the family physician may be in order.

Parent Tip: You might also have to fight your own tendencies to be a super-parent if you are the one who gets sick. A day or two of rest will have you back on your feet and able to keep your family healthy once again. Set a good example for your family during your sick days and rest.

If you enjoyed this post we invite you to read our blog, “2 Fun Science Activities to Teach Kids About Germs.”

Carmel Mountain Preschool provides a safe and caring environment with hands-on, developmentally-appropriate programs for children. We also offer excellent care for elementary school-age students with our before and after school programs. CMP is located at 9510 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego CA 92129, situated between 4S Ranch, Rancho Peñasquitos, Carmel Valley, and Santaluz For more information, please visit our website or contact us at 858.484.4877.