Written by Gwen Payne
As parents, you’re often bombarded with advice on how best to raise your kids. Expectations, from both within and without, tend to be sky-high – you want to do as good a job (or better than!) your own parents did. It can be more than a little overwhelming, especially when you have work responsibilities to juggle. Your personal health may fall by the wayside.
Keeping your family healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s all about following a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle and supporting each other through the journey. HelloHealth offers 10 simple albeit effective tips to be happier and healthier together:
Go outside to play with your kids
Kids need to play outside, says Harvard Health Publishing, for their physical, social, and cognitive development. Encourage your children to go out – and join them frequently. Walks in the park, a simple game of catch, or playing tag on the beach are worthwhile, fun activities for the whole family, and surprisingly good exercise besides. It’s all free, fun, and natural. Did we mention all the bonding and happy memories?
Implement screen-free time
Children these days grow up with a smartphone in one hand and a gaming console in the other. Excessive screen-time can cause depression, disconnection, and other mental illnesses. The same applies to parents. Reduce screen-time (to up to 2 hours) to keep everyone centered and present. Designate technology-free zones in your house like the dinner table and the bedroom. Make it a rule to talk to each other without ever having a device in your hands.
Learn how to manage stress
Modern lifestyles come with multiple sources of stress. Children have exams, homework, career choices, and peers. Parents have a mountain of tasks and responsibilities, and clients, colleagues, and bosses to please. It’s even harder when you’re a boss yourself, explains Zenbusiness. Stress can suck the joy out of life. When extreme, it causes addictions, unhealthy habits, and poor life choices. Teach your family to manage stress by talking, spending time in nature, eating well, relaxing, and focusing the most on what really matters.
Design a weekly menu
We all know a healthy, well-balanced diet is important. The trouble most people have is implementing a good diet long-term when they have picky kids, many demands on their time, and little energy to spare. Designing a weekly menu together, with everyone’s input, is a practical way out. It allows you to come up with a healthy diet while still catering to everyone’s taste buds. Make a list of three square meals a day for a week and display it in the kitchen for everyone to see.
Cook together instead of dining out
Dining out is a traditional bonding event for most families but it’s not the healthiest option, especially when you frequent fast-food chains. Consider cooking a fancy meal at home instead as a family instead. It can be beneficial in multiple ways. It allows you to use healthy ingredients, spend more time as a family, and save money while still eating well. Moreover, it’s a great educational experience for kids. You can always pack a picnic basket if the kids don’t want to sit inside.
Expand your snack options
Traditional snack options like candy bars, potato chips, ramen, French fries, and cakes are doubtless delicious but can cause problems like obesity, diabetes, and general bad health. Fortunately, every traditional snack has a healthier variant these days that tastes about the same – and is much better for everyone’s waistline.
Have a daily sleeping ritual
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, and kids need more sleep than adults, according to Sleep Foundation. But getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. Many of us have trouble falling or staying asleep. A daily sleeping ritual prepares your body and mind for bed and is a balm for an overactive mind. Having a warm shower before bed, listening to soothing music together, and telling your kids a bedtime story are wonderful ways to unwind and relax.
Talk every day
The communication you share with your family is a reflection of your relationship with them. Set some time aside to talk to your family, whether it’s your spouse or your children, and just recount your day. If your children have any problems, encourage them to share, and troubleshoot collectively. Open communication is a key part of everyone’s emotional and mental wellbeing, as it offers stability and security. Some families choose to talk to each other during mealtime together as a unit, which is also important. It’s important to hold space for each other.
Schedule for health
Just like school and work are a part of your routine and feature prominently on your schedule, family health should do. We recommend putting up a calendar in the living room to note down health-related activities and events. Having a calendar of events allows you to stay organized and on track. Some events to plan are bike rides, hikes, a weekend on the beach, collective chores, and family meal prep.
Mold your children – preferably by example
Children are very impressionable. They base their behavior, thoughts, and mannerisms on the people they look up to the most – their parents! It’s not enough to say, you have to do as you say to acquire your child’s respect. Set a good example for your child by taking care of yourself. It teaches your child to pay attention to their health and gives them permission to take care of themselves.
Don’t expect to build a healthy lifestyle for your family in a day. It’s a matter of habit and routine, which can take time. Make small changes, maybe a couple every week, and just experience the results together, which will give you extra energy and enthusiasm. Allow habits to form with time, naturally. Make it a collective endeavor – you will need everyone’s support.
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