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4 Tips for Families from Family Medicine Moms & Dads

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4 Tips for Families from Family Medicine Moms & Dads

We asked our Family Medicine providers with school-age children to share how they are encouraging a healthy start to the school year with their own families. We hope this helps you and your family because the health and well-being of our children is always the #1 priority!

  1. Don’t Skip Check-Ups, Screenings and Vaccines

Here’s what Polly Burrall, a family nurse practitioner at North Oaks Primary Care in Hammond, recommends.

  • If your child hasn’t had a recent health check-up, schedule a visit with a pediatrician or primary care provider to ensure that your child’s vaccines are up-to-date and your child is healthy before returning to school.
  • Ask for a vision screening at the check-up.
  • Set a reminder to get the flu shot in the fall.

Polly also urges parents to teach kids about hand hygiene and cough etiquette. This has always been important, but with COVID 19 cases surging, it’s never been more crucial!

  1. Make Bedtime Routines a PriorityShawn Dearie and Farhan Siddiqui head shots

Getting quality rest is so important and helps children focus and concentrate at school.

Shawn Dearie, a family nurse practitioner at North Oaks Primary Care-Independence, implements these great night time guidelines at his house. 

  • A structured routine with a consistent schedule for wind down time, nightly self-hygiene, and bedtime helps your child get the rest they need to feel their best.
  • I suggest setting a bedtime no later than 8:30 p.m. for kids under 10 and no later than 9:00 p.m. for kids over 10 on school nights.
  • No devices, tablets or smart phones in bedrooms! This minimizes distractions and limit blue light exposure after dark.
  • Use a sound machine to help minimize distractions for better rest.

Dr. Farhan Siddiqui, a family medicine physician at North Oaks Primary Care-Hammond, concurs. “My dad used to make me stop doing homework 30 minutes before bedtime (around 9 p.m.), and I was in bed by 9:30 p.m. That half an hour helped me wind down and fall asleep faster.”

  • Don’t wait until the night before school starts to move to an earlier bedtime. If your child has been staying up later than usual or sleeping in, start making gradual adjustments to bedtime several weeks beforehand.
  1. Help Kids Make Healthy Food Choices

April McIntyre, a family nurse practitioner at North Oaks Primary Care-Livingston, encourages parents to involve their child in packing lunch for school.

  • Bento box lunches are a big hit in our house and allow endless combinations of healthy bites for a balanced lunch.
  • My kids feel like ‘big kids’ when they help me pack their lunches. Their lunchbox favorite is a Nutella®, peanut butter and banana wrap.

Polly Burrall adds, “Teach your kids how to make nutritious food choices by modeling it for them. Talk about how you feel better when you eat healthy. Consider a kids multivitamin if your child is a picky eater.”

  1. Filter Out the Screen Time

Here’s what Polly practices in her home when it comes to screen time.

  • Support other hobbies to keep your child’s mind and body active in other ways.
  • Reading is one of our favorite pastimes. Pick age appropriate books that your children show interest in. Give them a few options and then let them pick.
  • Read to your kids nightly if they are too young to read on their own.

The Dearie household follows these rules too.

  • No video games on school days.
  • Stop all screen time at least 1 hour prior to bedtime.

To schedule a visit with a North Oaks Primary Care provider, call (985) 236-0526 or request an appointment at