5 Healthy Habits for the Whole Family
January 30, 2019
The new year means a fresh start, but there’s nothing magical about January 1. Any day of the year is a great opportunity to set goals and implement healthy lifestyle habits. Resolutions aren’t just for you personally. Consider sitting down as a family, or if your children are too young set aside time with your spouse, to reflect on the past six months. What worked? What didn’t work? What areas do you want to improve? Once everyone’s ideas are out in the open, make decisions together for the months ahead. To spark the conversation, here are five ideas of healthy habits for the whole family that you can start now.
1. Family dinner
With homework, work schedules and shuttling back and forth between extracurricular activities, it can be hard to maintain a consistent family dinner routine. If you can’t sit down to eat together each night, set a goal for a realistic number of nights each week. This healthy habit will not only strengthen your bond as a family but instill a foundation about the importance of proper nutrition.
2. Play together
The importance of play is undeniable. Play doesn’t have to be some structured, organized activity. It can be as simple as a walk around the block or cranking up some music and having a dance party. Anything to get you moving!
3. Have a bedtime routine
If you don’t have one already, implement a bedtime routine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 10-13 hours of sleep for preschoolers and 9-12 hours for grade schoolers up to age 12. For other age groups and tips for developing healthy sleep habits, check out HealthyChildren.org.
4. Turn the page
Strive to read a book to your children or set aside time for them to read independently each day. This is a great habit to make part of your daily bedtime routine. Reading helps develop a strong parent-child bond, stimulate brain development as early as in utero, and cultivates active listening, strong literacy and critical thinking skills. Reading isn’t only beneficial for children. It can also help adults reduce stress, expand their vocabulary, and improve memory, focus and concentration.
5. Designate screen-free time
Set boundaries on when digital devices can and can’t be used, and as a parent lead by example. This can mean no phones at the dining table, no mobile digital devices in bedrooms, only watching tv or playing video games after reading a book, or committing to one day a week or weekend a month to go completely screen free. In this day and age, it might be difficult at first. But, eventually, it will become a habit like any other. You’ll be amazed at the benefits of unplugging for every member of your family.
Getting the entire family unit involved is the best chance for success. When everyone feels as though they’ve had input, not only does it open the lines of communication but it fosters a sense of ownership. After your family has decided which healthy habits they would benefit most from, schedule a time on the calendar for a monthly or quarterly check-in to hold everyone accountable. Remember, new habits aren’t formed overnight, but little by little, a little becomes a lot, so take it one day at a time.