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Bite-sized back to school tips

Monday 7 February, 2011 by Cairín

The first day of school is upon us so it's time to put away the bathers, pack up the beach towels and prepare for the onslaught.

School uniforms, textbooks, new shoes, lunchboxes, haircuts... even hair brushing for that matter, all come back on the scene! Shoeless days of lolling on the beach are no more. The time has come to face the music, or sound of screaming kids getting their hair brushed for the first time in weeks, and get organised!

But it doesn't have to be so hard. Your dedicated Cut your Cancer Risk blogger is on the case taking the stress out of back to school!

First off - what's for lunch? Supermarkets are like minefields these days with unhealthy products masquerading as ‘healthy', convenient lunchbox snacks. Beware of being duped by such trickery. Try planting some tasty sticks of carrot, celery, corn, snow peas and cucumber with dips in your kid's lunchbox instead. Add in some fruit - either fresh or tinned fruit in natural juice. No syrup juice need apply! Also avoid fruit bars and ‘straps' as they're high in sugar, low in fibre and they stick to children's teeth causing tooth decay. Vegetable crisps or chips are best bypassed, as they're high in fat and salt even when baked. Instead give them a small bag of natural popcorn (butter is the enemy).

If your little one is less than thrilled by the carrot and celery contrivance, check out the Choice food website for some healthy snacks ideas .There are a few products on the market that are high in fibre and low in sugar.

Don't forget to put in a large bottle of water to make sure that your children stay hydrated during lesson time. To keep the water cool on a hot day stick the water bottle in the freezer the night before. This way the water defrosts gradually and the water will stay icy-cool for longer.

Another concern during the first school term is providing adequate sun protection for their kids. UV levels are extreme during the next few months and it can take as little as 11 minutes to get sunburnt. Sun exposure received during childhood plays a key role in determining future skin cancer risk so it is important that your kids know their stuff when it comes to being SunSmart.

After holidays it can be easy to forget the school routine, so remind your rugrat about how to apply sunscreen correctly and make sure they know that when they put on their hats to go outside, they need to put on more sunscreen too. An easy way to guarantee your kid has sun protection at their fingertips, is to attach their 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen to their school bag!

If you find it difficult to encourage your child to use sunscreen try a spray-on sunscreen or a gel for something new.

Uniforms can be another headache when it comes to back to school. Not only do you have to anticipate any growth spurts but you also need to make sure that the uniform is SunSmart. Personally, my mother took no chances when it came to potential growth spurts and brought the longest uniform in the shop thus ensuring that from 12 until 18, she didn't have the think about buying a new school uniform again! Not a bad strategy, unless your child doesn't wear the ‘walking pinafore' look well!

To find a SunSmart uniform that offers great protection against harmful UV radiation, look for uniforms that have a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 30 or more. Densely woven clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible offers the best protection and a loose fitting style keep children cool in the heat.

Lastly, get into the habit of checking the SunSmart UV Alert every day. The UV Alert lets you know when sun protection is required making it easier than ever for you to ensure that your kids are SunSmarter this school year. Whenever the UV level is three and above, slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunglasses.

The SunSmart UV Alert is available at sunsmart.com.au and as a free app for iPhones.

You will, after a while, get back into the flow of the school routine. Just give it a bit of time and patience... and when it all gets too much, a standard glass of pinot grigio goes a long way!

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