Habits of a Healthy Family
With families so busy these days it’s sometimes hard to make time for your health by exercising. How can you justify an hour at the gym away from your family when you haven’t seen them all day and dinner’s still up in the air? With parents working harder than ever, homework piling up for kids, extracurricular activities plus the hours it takes to commute to and from those activities, it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks: Take-outs most days of the week, eating in front of the TV soon becomes the norm.
But in today’s stressful, high-tech world, it’s even more crucial to stay healthy and personally connect with your kids, and with your spouse. Your body is your only body, and if your health is neglected and falls by the wayside, everything can go by the wayside too. Your family is your only family, and the same rule applies.
How to keep your family healthy?
- Eat often and eat healthy. Pick healthy foods, and don’t skip meals. You and your kids have a lot on your day’s schedule and you need the fuel to get through it. Chips and soda isn’t going to help you stay alert and healthy. Experts say to eat every 2 hrs. That means a breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks in between meals.Time constrained? Pre-prepare meals before-hand if needed, and pre-package snacks in snack baggies that can be grabbed to go from the pantry . Make your own trailmix filled with nutritious foods like nuts, whole-wheat pretzels, raisins. Resist the temptation for frozen or pre-packackaged foods or snacks as they do not pack the same nutritional punch as home-made munchies, and often contain unhealthy ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup.
- Exercise at least 20 minutes a day. An hour is just unmanageable for a lot of families, but just 20 minutes of exercise a day is better than nothing . What’s more, if the activity is something that you enjoy, you end up doing it for longer than 20 minutes.What can you do as a family? Chase the kids in the backyard for at least 20 minutes. Walk the dog together. Take a bike ride around the neighborhood. I know a lot of parents who’ve purchased the bike trailer to attach to their bikes.
- Eat dinner together at least five nights a week. First thing you should do is make sure the the TV is off. It IS possible to eat dinner together. Studies show that families who eat dinner together on most nights have healthier kids who choose more fruits and vegetables even when not at home. It also provides time and opportunity to catch up on everyone’s lives, and it becomes the perfect time to open up lines of communication.What if dinner together is just impossible to make happen? Turn breakfast into your family meal. Make sure you wake up early enough that it isn’t a harried affair.
- Have fun as a family. Take the time to do something silly and fun with the kids. Game night, playing music, dancing, throw water balloons in the backyard, even watching a favorite show together as a family can be a destressing event for each member of the family. All the activities listed are at-home activities because you’re not taking up more valuable time driving somewhere, and they usually end up being cheaper!
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep should be a calming time, and you need it for your body to recover from the day. Lack of sleep carries the same symptoms as being under the influence. Your groggy, your reflexes aren’t as fast, and you can fall asleep at the wheel while driving. Your kids won’t be able to concentrate as well in school if they’re too sleepy to pay attention. Get your family into a routine that includes lights out at a time that gives you all plenty of time to sleep.
- Don’t forget date night. A strong, happy couple is the backbone of any happy family so you shouldn’t forget about each other. Sure you can hire a baby-sitter to get away from the kids once in a while, but any moment you take time to connect as a couple is better than nothing. This can mean having a later bed-time than the kids and popping open a bottle of wine, plopping in front of the TV and watching an R-rated movie together. Better yet, forget the TV and have a conversation. One caveat: kid topics not allowed. Talk about your day, reminisce, make plans for the future, anything as long as it’s not diapers, and toilet training. You’ll feel a lot closer doing so.
Six tips. How do you incorporate them into your day? Start one at a time. Announce it to the family and get everyone excited and on board. They all involve almost no work or minimal alterations at worst, and the payoff can be huge. Start this week and see if you can’t incorporate all six into your family routine by the end of the month. Please report back and tell us how your family feels after adopting these habits!