How much time do you really spend together as a family? We are all overscheduled including our kids but it is possible to make the time and focus on goals together. Part of your responsibility as a parent is to teach your child how to lead a healthy life. Little changes to your family’s routine can have a huge impact on their health. Try incorporating a few of these suggestions into your daily life and you will be surprised at the big difference they will make to your family’s well- being.
Make exercise part of everyday life. We all know that exercise is essential to help children develop healthy minds and bodies as well as encourage gross motor development. Take a walk, swim or go for a bike ride together. Encourage your children to participate in team sports or martial arts. Children who are physically active tend to be healthier, happier (with better self-esteem and self-confidence), and better learners, since physical activity improves their ability to focus and concentrate.
Encourage healthy food habits. Pay attention to the kinds of food you buy. Have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available and limit the amount of ‘junk food’ they eat. Avoid soft drinks and sports drinks and make water the drink of choice in your home.
Involve your children in the preparation of the food for the family. They will be more interested in what they are eating if they are part of the process. It will require patience on your side but the benefits are that your child is learning a skill and you are spending quality time with them.
Eat meals together as a family whenever possible. Create a ritual of having dinner together and encouraging conversation and sharing of information. This also encourages you to have healthy food at the table and at least you know what your children are eating.
Have Some Chill Time
Share some relaxation time. With our overscheduled lives, downtime doesn’t come naturally anymore. Plan some quiet family time where you can all take a moment and de-stress. Read, write, listen to music or just sit and talk. Take dessert or a cup of tea into the family room and listen to music, play a board game, or just sit and talk. This helps create some peace in the home and gives everyone a chance to reflect on their lives.
Limit Screen Time
Monitor and limit the time your child spends playing video games, watching TV and on the computer and internet. Do not allow a TV or computer in your child’s room. Set limited times for TV and computer time and be sure to enforce this. Be a good example and don’t watch too much yourself. Exposure to too much TV can lead to behavioural problems, obesity and irregular sleep.
Sleep is essential. Make sure the whole family gets enough sleep. Establish good bedtime routines and limit stimulation around bedtime. When we sleep we rest, and our body is able to renew its energy.
Be positive. Show warmth and love in your family and be grateful for what you have. This will help your child be comfortable with who they are and allow them to feel compassion and understanding for others. Be aware of the good things that your child does and let them know you appreciate this behaviour.
Get Out There
Be in nature together and get outdoors. Go hiking or camping or just for a walk on the beach. Kids who spend time in nature learn how to respect the earth, and the importance of living in balance with our natural environment. It’s fun and healthy – for parents, too!
Kids learn by example so be a good role model. If you have a hard time keeping up your new healthy habit and slip up, don’t give yourself a hard time, just make a better decision next time and keep it up. Most of all lighten up and have fun and laugh together.