School’s out, and your child arrives home hungry and ready for a break. After giving you a hug, he grabs a bag of chips and goes to play a quick video game before starting homework. Two hours later you realize he’s still parked in front of the TV. Sound familiar?

We can’t stop our kids from wanting to veg out on technology, fill up on snacks, and text late into the night, but we can take steps to counteract the behaviors. The key is setting limits to ensure that your kids are getting healthy foods, physical activity, and plenty of sleep. Here are a few tips for working balance into your family’s routine.

Eat Well

Besides starting the day off right with a good breakfast of protein and healthy carbohydrates, one of the most important things parents can do is make snack time count, says pediatrician Jennifer Shu. Instead of letting kids fill up on crackers or chips, offer them fruit, vegetables, Greek yogurt, string cheese, or dried fruit, like raisins. If your kids don’t like vegetables, double up on the fruit and offer as many colors as possible for vitamin variety.

Shu also recommends thinking of the dinner plate as half fruits and vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter healthy or whole grains, with dairy on the side. Your child’s fist size is a good guideline for portion size. For the child who fills up easily, parcel out food groups to ensure she’s eating vegetables or fruit at some point during the day. If your child is finicky, it can be helpful to view her eating habits over the week to avoid seeing individual meals as a failure. For these kids, it’s useful to offer just two or three items you feel are important to minimize choosing the same food over and over.

For tweens who might be hitting a growth spurt—or wish they were—encourage them to eat protein over carbs, as well as calcium-rich foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach, or almonds, Shu says. Limit the junk food to one treat a day and one junk meal a week. Perhaps most important, model good eating habits yourself. (Take that bag of cookies to work if you must!)

Stay Active

With busy schedules and kids’ extracurricular activities, it’s easy to let physical activity slide. But students should get at least an hour of exercise a day, says Shu. That can involve a structured activity such as soccer or an unstructured activity like walking to school or playing during recess. Because most kids won’t get enough physical activity at school, Shu recommends building activity into your schedule, whether it’s shooting hoops, going for a walk, or heading to the park after dinner. Getting outside is important because children have more room to be active, and fresh air can have a positive impact on moods. But if the weather is particularly nasty, try an indoor activity like a round of Just Dance as a family.

The best way to help kids want to be active is to make physical activity part of your family culture, says Betsy Brown Braun, child development specialist and author of Just Tell Me What To Say. Sign up for a sport, hit the community swimming pool regularly, or head out for Saturday bike rides. To get kids to adopt exercise habits, it’s important to make fitness a family routine.

Limit Technology

It’s understandable that during their limited free time, children may want to text friends or use smartphone apps. Add in e-readers, tablets, and iPods, and kids’ tech activities can creep well beyond bedtime if left unchecked. The result? Sleepy students in the classroom.

It’s not easy monitoring pocket-size screens and getting kids off the Xbox; however, it’s important to consider what children are not doing—exercising, sleeping, or studying—when they’re involved with technology. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours a day of screen time, but kids are averaging a whopping seven hours a day. Shocked? Here’s what Shu and Brown Braun suggest for balance in your family:

  • Keep televisions and computers out of kids’ bedrooms.
  • Create a central charging station for all electronic devices.
  • At least 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off the TV and have kids turn in all devices.
  • Discuss tech policies as a family, especially with older kids, so they understand the whys behind them, such as why uninterrupted sleep and exercise are important for growing bodies.
  • Ensure that your kids have time for creativity and socializing. It’s important for all kids, but younger children are still developing imagination and social skills, and interacting with their environment is an important learning tool.
  • If students are rushing homework to get to their favorite video game, consider limiting screen time to weekends only.

With multiple household tech devices and hectic schedules, it’s easy to slip up on too much technology, so kids need adults to provide limits. As in most areas of life, children learn by example, so it’s important for parents to model good screen behavior themselves. Keep your family’s guidelines simple enough that you can stick with a plan. Your child’s teachers will thank you.

Joanna Nesbit writes about education, parenting, and family travel for online, national, and regional magazines. She lives in Bellingham, Wash., with her husband and two children.