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The holidays, a break from routine for children

For children, the holidays are a period of rest, but also of interruption. Can we make it easier to get back into the routine? How can we prevent them from abusing screens?

As every year, the little ones look forward to the holidays with excitement: family gatherings, Christmas plans, gift shopping, etc. But at the end of the day, it’s not just a break and a break, it’s also an interruption: the children’s daily routine is disrupted by these well-marked dates. How can we handle the situation?

The Health Promotion Committee of the Spanish Pediatric Association (AEP)coordinated by the doctor Julio Alvarez Pittiadvises healthy lifestyle habits to enjoy the holidays and to make the return to routine as bearable as possible.

Disrupting routine has consequences for children’s health

Although it is a time of peace, family, celebration, games and enjoymentit can also be linked to unhealthy habits.

Dr. Álvarez Pitti explains that several studies prove that holidays have direct consequences on children’s health as…

  • Less physical activity, mostly because the structure of the day is lost. Thus, it is estimated that children gain about 1.2 kilograms of weight during the holidays precisely because they do not follow the established routine during the rest of the year.
  • Fewer hours of sleepgiven the fact that he doesn’t set a time to get up or go to bed
  • Worse foodsince there is no fixed meal schedule or stable menus
  • More sedentarismthis being the result of the sum of all the previous factors.

The expert points to vacation periods as the perfect opportunity to turn them into “shared activity time.”

family-routine-vacation-children
EPA/ROBIN UTRECHT

How to face the holidays with the little ones

To prevent children and teenagers from falling into a sedentary lifestyle and ending up abusing screens, the AEP recommends:

  • Plan family activities. Children must do at least one hour of physical exercise a day, even during the holidays, since by not going to school or doing extracurricular activities, sedentarism can be favored. Experts recommend taking advantage of free time to organize activities that involve physical activity with the little ones in the house: going to see the Christmas lights, taking a walk in the countryside or a bike tour are some activities that we can practice in family
  • Attend urban camps or camps which, in addition to keeping them entertained and active on days when parents can’t stay with them, will allow them to spend time with other children their age and make new friends.
  • Maintain sleep and meal schedules. From the CPS-AEP remember that, during holidays we must prevent children and teenagers from going to bed late at night glued to one screen and getting up in the middle of the day to be glued to the next one. Maintaining a sleep routine and avoiding screen exposure for a while before going to bed is necessary to ensure rest.
  • Favor active plans with friends.
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