Are you secretly happy the kids are properly back to school? I am SO ready for the routine and discipline that school brings.


And as another year full of learning, playing and growing lies ahead, it's a good time to focus on keeping mind and body healthy from our expert GP, Dr Nick Flynn.


1. Vaccinations 

Make sure your children's vaccinations are up to date, especially those starting in Junior Infants. As a practicing GP, I have seen many cases of mumps in the last few years, and a simple, safe vaccine can protect your children from this and other illnesses. Vaccinations are free of charge with your GP or public health nurse.


2. Bedtime

During the holiday period, bedtimes slip and kids tend to stay up late – it’s all part of the fun of the holidays! However, now that they are back to school, it is time to start to reverse this routine and ensure that kids (and adults!) are getting enough sleep. Kids at school need nine to 11 hours’ sleep per night if they are going to be able to perform and concentrate the next day.


3. Hygiene

It’s a constant battle, isn’t it? Brush your teeth morning and evening, wash your hands and face, wash your hands after going to the toilet - our kids need constant reminders. With lots of germs lurking around classrooms and school toilets, it’s important to make sure our kids go to school with this mantra ringing in their ears!



4. Illness and medication

If your child has an existing medical condition like asthma, diabetes or epilepsy, make sure that the school authorities know about it. A written plan with respect to taking medication, and what to do if your child is unwell, is helpful. If your child has any allergies, please ensure the school is aware. Peanuts, eggs, and bee-stings are among the common childhood allergies, and the school authorities must be aware of your child’s allergies.


5. Childhood obesity is on the rise

Encourage healthy-eating so that your kids can enjoy a healthy lunchbox when at school. “Breakfast like a king” is the old saying, and certainly our kids should have a healthy meal to start the day. 


6. Exercise 

Technology is permeating all our lives, and our kids are no exception. It can be difficult to control access to PCs, smartphones, and tablets during the holidays. Limit time in front of screens to an hour per day and encourage outdoor pursuits, where our kids can burn up those calories and ensure they are tired at bedtime for a restful sleep.



7. Eyesight 

Eye problems are relatively common in childhood and sometimes are not picked up until kids are going to school. Some warning signs include holding books very close when reading, closing one eye to see better (while looking at a book or watching television, for example), looking cross-eyed, having an eye which turns out, not being able to distinguish certain colours, or having difficulty seeing objects that are potential hazards, such as steps, curbs, and walls.


8. Anxiety

Most kids, like most adults, take everything in their stride. However, back to school can be a stressful time for some parents and children. Help your kids by talking about school in a positive way. “It is great to see your friends every day”, or “Lessons this year will be exciting...” Plenty of sleep and exercise, a healthy diet, and positive messages around school can all help reduce this worry.


Let's keep our kids healthy for winter!