Surviving Cold Season: Here’s How You Can Keep Your Family Healthy All Winter Long

How To Survive Cold Season

Cold season has officially arrived. How do I know? To start, I have two children who attend public school. Whether they’re infected with a case of the sniffles or they’re telling me about the latest virus to hit their class; as a parent, cold season is no picnic. And to add fuel to the fire, it’s not just my kids who spend their days in school. As a high school principal, it’s clear: viruses hit early and often.

No surprise here–one of my top goals as a parent is to keep my family healthy all season long. While we’re all affected by some small bug or cold eventually, I’m a firm believer that the right preventative care can go a long way to warding off the common cold. Take a look at my list. For our family, these rules are an absolute necessity.

The Parent/Educator’s Guide to Staying Healthy:

Prioritize Sleep


Nothing is more important than adequate rest. This goes for my children, for me, my husband. Nobody in the family gets to bend the rules of rest consistently. Consider the important processes that happen when we take 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Our brains recharge. Our bodies refuel. We rise ready to tackle all of the cognitive, physical, and emotional tasks of the day.

Like most healthy habits, teaching our children the value of sleep is an essential part of the process. Be a model for them and you all will benefit from this important habit.

Say No to Easy Fixes


I’m talking about fast food, candy as a tide-over, the sugar pacifier, too much TV. We all have busy lives but building healthy habits into our lives is essential to our health. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional fast food dinner or allowing our children to enjoy screen time. What’s most important is that we’re consciously evaluating the way we fill our days and evenings.

Try Really Hard with Nutrition


This one’s a hard one. It’s hard because if both parents (or just you) are working, it’s hard to come home and whip up dinner after a long day. You might have more work to complete. Housework is no doubt piling up. Try where you can to squeeze in those extra healthy meals to make up for nights where mac and cheese is the obvious and welcome answer. A few ideas? Weekend meal preps. Delivery food boxes. Enlisting the help of a family member or even hiring somebody to help with your meals.

Hike, Bike, and Play As Often As Possible

Sleep. Healthy food. Fresh air. I consider these the foundational elements of a healthy immune system. It’s why I push my kids out the door on warm days and am out on the sidelines on game nights. If activity is hard to fit into your weekly schedules, consider adopting weekend traditions. Go out for a family hike. Take a bike ride.

Swoop in When in Counts

No matter how well you prepare for the eventual cold, they will strike. And when they do, you’ll want to be on the ready to swoop in to help curb its lifetime. What’s the best way to do this? Extra sleep, extra veggies, extra water.

What are your go-to tricks for helping your family stay healthy during the colder seasons? Send your ideas my way!

Katie Pennington is the Principal of Holland Schools in Michigan. As a leader in the ed-tech field, Katie’s always on the lookout for bringing innovative ideas into the classroom.

Busy Mom Secrets: 8 Ideas for a Spooky & Safe Halloween

Busy Mom Secrets: 8 Ideas for a Spooky & Safe Halloween

One of the constant battles of working full time as a parent is missing out on the small moments that make up each day. Holidays have a way of enlarging these small moments, leaving parents to feel inadequate. What do I mean by small moments? You might miss out on the costume party at school. Chances are, you won’t be able to cross off all the items on your family’s fall bucket list. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in the best parts of the holiday when it counts.

Take it from me–a working mom who loves both of her jobs, it is possible. All it takes is the right mindset and a willingness to let the perfectionist in you slip away.

Halloween is right around the corner. While this list may differ for you and your family, the strategy behind the list can remain the same. Choose the activities that your family loves the most. Focus on quality time. And above all, have fun! I’m willing to bet that it doesn’t matter what activity your family decides to do; what matters is the memories, the love, and the laughter that is shared during that time together.

Here’s my list. It’s spooky, it’s fun, and it allows me to celebrate this festive holiday with my family without making crazy sacrifices!

  1. Decorate the House

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than digging out the spooky decorations and letting your kids help you transform your house into a ghoulish destination? I love this activity because the memory extends far beyond the time it takes us to hang a few cobwebs and stick on the pumpkin adhesive. Each day leading up to Halloween, you and your family will wake up to a house that screams “Halloween!”

  1. Pick Your Pumpkin Poison

Each family has their own traditions when it comes to pumpkins. Choose your mark and stick to it! While it may seem ideal to tackle all of the projects: picking, carving, painting, roasting, etc., it may not be realistic! Remember, as the parent, you’re the guide. Set the rules, prepare the supplies, and let your kids go wild.

  1. Trick Your Senses

I love a cozy house. And there’s nothing cozier than an apple pie baking in the oven. Unfortunately, pie baking days are rare. But that doesn’t mean you can’t invoke the same sort of feel in your home! My go-to cozy trick? Heat 2-3 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1 cup water in a small pot on the stove. Before you know it, your home will smell like the warmth of the season. This is a great way to add that cozy character while your kids are doing homework in the evening.

  1. Hold Fast on Trick or Treat Traditions

If you’re like my family, you’ve adopted certain traditions when it comes to the actual night of trick or treating. Hold fast to these events! These will be the memories that your children remember! Maybe you pose outside on the porch each year. Maybe you visit that one neighborhood that always hands out the best candy bars. If you’re brave, you might even enact a free-for-all candy buffet that night (Just kidding, no parent is that brave.)

The point is, your traditions are special. Make new ones. Keep the old. Your family’s foundation is being built on these very same events.