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.

3 French Parenting Tips All Parents Should Borrow

We may idolize french culture for their fashion and their food, but what about their parenting style? French parenting, while not so dissimilar from their Western counterparts, does prioritize the growth of a child. From a young age, the child is treated more as an adult, a trend that emphasizes the idea that as a society, we should be raising adults, not children. As a parent and educator, I find myself agreeing on multiple tenets of this philosophy. Best of all, the French style of wellness benefits not only your children, but you, too.

While it may not be possible to fully subscribe to the French style, these three tips are a great place to start!

Child at daybreak

  1. Make Mealtime Count  

It’s no secret that the french people are masters at maintaining a healthy weight. The secret to their trim physiques? Proper portion control. For many living in France, the cuisine is an important part of the day. Enjoying a well-crafted dinner is a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Additionally, children living in France benefit from superior school lunches. While these lunches feature baguettes, cheese, and dessert, they all arrive in perfectly petite portions.

Your Turn: Practice intentional eating during your family’s dinner. While your children may not be used to eating meals that focus on vegetables, you’ll be doing you and your family a favor by committing to nutrition! If you’re tempted to make additional meals or exceptions for your kids, consider that the French parent would treat their child as an adult. Encourage them to take a few bites to develop their palate. And don’t forget about school lunches! When possible, take inspiration from these traditional French school lunches. Real food wins!

Eating a healthy dinner

  1. Get Active

Besides taking the time to eat a balanced meal, frequent movement is also an essential part of French culture. Children are expected to walk or bike to school. Additionally, starting a young age, children take frequent walks during school and at home.

Your Turn: If possible, encourage your children to walk or ride bike at school. And, when they return home from school, practice sending them right outside to play. Spending time outdoors can empower kids to explore a new world on their own.


  1. Define Your Role as Parent and Person

To raise a child in the French style means not sacrificing who you are for the role. French parents carve time to act like an adult. Evenings, in particular, are designated as ‘Adult Time’. Children are welcome to join in these quiet moments, where adults may be talking, drinking tea, or socializing with friends. Chances are, the children will find more entertaining ways to pass the time.

Your Turn: You may feel that you’re not able to turn off your parenting hat each night, but what about taking baby steps to limit your parent-role all the time. Invite a few friends over for dinner one weekend. Talk about what the evening will entail with your kids and invite them to find ways to play by themselves. Clearly, this strategy will only work for children who are able to care for themselves! But don’t shy away from giving older siblings more responsibility, especially while you’re still there in the home in case of any emergencies.
What are your thoughts? Do you credit a certain style of parenting as your go-to?

Children playing outside