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10 Tips to Keep Kids Healthy During the Holidays


It’s the most wonderful – and the busiest and craziest – time of year. Sometimes in the midst of all of the holiday hoopla, health and wellness move down on our list of priorities. Follow these ten tips to keep your family physically and mentally healthy.

  1. Get a flu shot. It’s not too late! The Ohio Department of Health recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot. At this time, the flu activity level is considered “regional,” meaning that there is flu activity in half of the state of Ohio. If your family hasn’t received their flu shots yet, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.
  2. Make sleep a priority. With all of the hustle and bustle that the holidays bring, it can be hard to stick to a strict sleep schedule. Try to plan your holiday parties around nap times to make sure your family gets the rest they need to stay healthy.
  3. Balance out holiday treats with healthy meals and snacks. This time of year, kids try to stick to Buddy the Elf’s “four main food groups – candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup.” It’s hard to say no to every cookie and candy, but try to balance out the sweet treats with healthy snacks, balanced meals and lots of water.
  4. Constantly communicate. Check in with your kids often – let them know what’s coming, where they’re going and who they’ll be seeing. It can be stressful for kids to be surrounded by lots of people, many that they don’t know well or see often. Make sure they understand what to expect and ask them how they’re feeling as you hop between holiday party stops.
  5. Find ways to stay active. Try to make sure your kids are up and moving during their holiday breaks. For some kids, that means playing outside in the snow, but others need to find ways to burn off energy indoors. Help them find fun, safe physical activities they can do inside to keep their blood flowing. Use Christmas items to create fun games like obstacle courses and relay races, or hide candy canes – just like hiding Easter eggs!
  6. Make hand washing a must. Handwashing is always important, but this is the time of year to kick it into overdrive! Encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently, and especially before eating, after coughing or sneezing and after using the restroom.
  7. Pay it forward. Help your kids understand the reason for the season – kindness has a positive impact on attitudes and can even reduce stress. Find a way to volunteer together or donate to an organization that gives back to those in need this time of year.
  8. Stick to a routine. For some families, it seems almost impossible during the holidays, but sticking to the same wake up times and bedtimes, meal times and other daily activities can reduce stress for kids of all ages.
  9. Stay home if you or your kids aren’t feeling well. Getting sick during the holidays is the worst. No one likes to miss out on the fun festivities, but staying home when you or your kids are under the weather is best for everyone. Taking it easy will mean a quicker recovery for your family, and your friends and relatives will appreciate that you kept your germs to yourself during the season of giving.
  10. Prioritize presence over perfection. If you don’t get the perfect photo of your kids with Santa, or you don’t make it to every holiday party on time, don’t fret. The joy of the season comes from spending time with those you love and lifelong memories come from presence, not perfection. Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment – and your kids will too!

We hope your family stays healthy and happy all holiday season long! But if you do find yourself or your kids feeling unwell, we’ll be here to help in our Mercer Health Medical Group primary care offices and at Doctors’ Urgent Care.

If holiday stress doesn’t cease after the New Year and becomes overwhelming for your child or teen, our COPE program may be a helpful option. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Mercer Health Pediatrics at 419-586-7940.