*Paid collaboration with Bassetts Vitamins
After the chaos of the summer holidays I thought the new school term would bring a sense of normality.
But a month in and we’re still finding our new routine.
The last few weeks have been a blur of helping my youngest settle into full-time school; trying out new after-school clubs and activities; play dates and birthday parties; Beavers camp and sleepovers with friends. It’s also a new era for me as after nine years as a pre-school mum I have no one home with me during the day.
As we adjust to this new chapter in our lives we’re trying to find a sense of balance – contrasting my children’s busy schedules with cosy days and evenings at home reading books or watching a family movie.
We’ve also labelled October ‘Healthy Month’ and are getting our diets and fitness routines back on track.
As well as running the family 2.4K and the half marathon for me we’re making an extra effort to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, to eat healthy home-cooked evening meals, and to keep sugary snacks to a minimum. The new term of sporting activities have started back up again – and we’re spending as much time outdoors as we can to get that all-important Vitamin D before the nights start drawing in for winter.
I’ve long felt that mornings are key in setting us up for the rest of the day. Start as you mean to go on as they say. A good morning routine helps us make the most of our family time together.
Here’s six things we do every morning to ensure a healthy start for all of us.
Start the day with a cuddle…
Mornings are always a rush during term time. The school and work run can be stressful, there’s no doubt about that. But we still make time every morning to have cuddles – or a cwtch as we call it here in Wales. As soon as my children wake, usually just before 7am, they all jump into our bed and snuggle up. It’s one of my favourite parts of the day. I miss them so much when they are at school so I want our day to start by feeling connected as a family. I find in this relaxed and comforting environment my children are more likely to tell us of any troubles they may be having at school or to share any funny anecdotes from the previous day. I know they won’t always want cuddles in bed with their mummy and daddy but while they are little I want them to start the day feeling connected to us and well-loved. And it seems my reasoning is backed by scientists who say there are clinically proven benefits to a daily cuddle. It releases oxytocin – the feel good hormone – as well as chemicals that fight infection and help boost the immune system.
… and some exercise
Two mornings a week I leave the house to go to the gym before my children are awake. There are still plenty of cuddles for me when I get back – they usually run to meet me at the front door when they hear my key in the lock. I feel more alert and focused and my motivation levels are through the roof when I’ve made time to start the day with exercise. I find it inspires my children too. Once they’re ready for school they’re allowed to play in the garden if it’s dry – usually either football or on the trampoline. We walk to school when we can – it’s a mile walk so it’s not always possible if I’m heading somewhere else straight from school – but I think it’s good for them to burn off some energy ready for a day at school. Every morning all the pupils at my children’s school have to do five star jumps when the bell goes at the start of the day and they then walk a mile by doing laps of they school yard. They say it helps the children focus better.
Make time for a healthy breakfast
If my children don’t eat within around 20 minutes of waking up then we are in for trouble as ‘hanger’ sets in and everything descends into chaos. We opt for slow-releasing carbohydrate breakfasts with my children usually choosing porridge made from whole milk and rolled oats topped with fresh fruit or raisins. I make my own granola from various nuts and seeds which I serve with almond or oat milk.
Then it’s over to the Nutribullet for a homemade smoothie – usually banana, frozen berries, a handful of iron-rich spinach, a couple of omega-3 rich walnuts and whole milk for my children, and a green smoothie for me and Cardiff Daddy. I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying this but I truly believe our daily smoothies keep us fit and healthy. Starting the day with at least three of our five a day helps boost the immune system and wards off the bugs.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day
We have a rule that no one is allowed to leave the breakfast table until they’ve drunk at least one glass of water – and I include myself here. As a busy working mum of three I am sometimes so rushed off my feet that I would forget to drink if I didn’t set reminders on my phone. I can tell when I haven’t drunk enough though because I am extra tired and clumsier and it affects my digestion and skin. The last thing I want is for my children to be like that at school so I make sure they have a big glass of water in the morning, one as soon as I collect them from school, one during or after whatever after school activity they have, and one with their tea. They take a big bottle of water to school and my youngest two have milk before their morning playtime. Being hydrated is so important.
Okay so we do this once a week rather than every day but still… Every Monday morning while eating our breakfast, we sit down as a family and plan what we are going to eat for our evening meals for the week and I do the weekly shop while my children are at school. We try to eat as a family as much as we can – I think it’s an important bonding experience. However some days children’s activities and grown ups’ work schedules mean it’s easier for kids and adults to eat separately.
It takes less than five minutes to put our meal plan together but I find it makes the whole week so much less stressful. Planning our food for the week means I’m less likely to panic-buy the less healthy options in the shop opposite school five minutes before I pick my children up because I need something quick and easy to eat. We still have days when I serve up beige freezer food – but I’m less likely to if I plan what we are eating. Involving the children in our meal planning and letting them have a say on what we eat (within reason!) also means they are more likely to eat what turns up on their plate because they know what to expect. Planning for the week also means I can ensure they are eating a good balance of different food groups and sources of protein, iron, calcium, and essential vitamins and minerals over the course of a week.
Some of our meals will be easy to source from store cupboard and freezer essentials. I batch cook our favourite family meals a lot and it makes life so much easier on busy days knowing I have a healthy family-sized meal ready to defrost from the freezer.
Take a daily multivitamin
Taking their daily multivitamin is one of the highlights of my children’s day. They love their daily multivitamin and never fail to remind me they need to take them. As much as we eat a balanced diet and get plenty of fresh air and exercise it’s always good to have a helping hand to make sure we get some of the necessary nutrients.* My children have been taking their multivitamins for as long as I can remember – drops in their water or milk when they were little and now that they are older the children’s chewy ones.
Most recently my youngest two have been putting Bassetts Vitamins Omega-3 + Multivitamins Orange Flavour pastilles to the test. The new pastilles contain all the benefits of Bassetts Vitamins’ much-loved multivitamins, but with added omega -3. What’s more, it’s been made with natural flavours and colours, and no added sugar.
Formulated especially for children between the ages of three and six these new vitamins are an easy – and my children would add really yummy – way to get more essential Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B5 and Vitamin B6 into little ones’ diets.
Vitamin B6 supports normal psychological function and Vitamin B5 contributes to mental performance. This is especially important for my youngest who has just started reception class – five days a week is a big change for him and I can tell he’s more tired than usual.
Oily fish is one of the best sources – although this isn’t something my children really like to eat. You can also get it in flax seeds and chia seeds which again are hardly at the top of any child’s favourite foods list. Vitamins are no substitute for a balanced diet but it’s great to have a convenient additional source.
Bassets Vitamins asked my children to draw a picture of what the pastilles tasted like.
My youngest – four year old Littlest Boy I – says the pastilles taste delicious although they are made with natural flavours and colours, and have no added sugar.
Littlest is still working on his fine drawing skills but you can see his interpretation of an explosion of orange and green fruit and vegetables above.
Six-year-old Little Man O tells me the vitamins are chewy and juicy and taste “really really fruity” and “they smell amazing”.
He said it was like orange juice, carrot and satsumas all rolled into one and dancing around and so that’s what he drew
They’ve realized it’s about more than just the taste though. They love the back of the packet which shows a squidgy person detailing the benefits of all the vitamins to different areas of the body. There’s Vitamin D which helps support healthy teeth and to help absorb calcium for bone growth; Vitamin C which helps support the immune system; Vitamin A which helps support normal skin and vision.
As Little O concluded: “It’s good for every part of us.”
Omega-3 + Multivitamins Orange Flavour pastilles cost RRP £5.50 for a pack of 30 pastilles.
*Just a reminder that food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.