As a mother of two toddlers, I often feel like I’m not able to keep up the healthy habits I’d like for myself and my family. I tend to go through a cycle of trying really hard to create a healthy environment for my family to not trying at all, because there are just so many other priorities.
So, rather than completely overhaul my family’s lifestyle, my plan is to adapt habits in a way that works for my family and start small with the hope of making healthy behaviors part of our routine. Here are some of my ideas — I encourage you to choose a few that stand out and give them a try too.
Healthy habit ideas:
- Exercise. During commercial breaks, or between Netflix episodes, have a friendly competition to see who can do the most pushups, hold a plank the longest or do the most jumping jacks.
- Forgive. Admit mistakes to your children and ask for forgiveness. By modeling this behavior, it can help improve your own health and well-being while teaching kids to let go of grudges and bitterness.
- Manage portions. Offer a fruit and vegetable at every meal. Don’t force kids to eat the fruit and veggies, but rather have them available. Be sure to model healthy eating — our kids are watching.
- Be proactive with health care. Stay on top of well-child visits. These appointments track your child’s growth, behavior, sleep, eating and development of social skills.
- Get quality sleep. Aim for an early bedtime and a consistent routine of winding down — with no screen time. Remember, sleep-deprived children usually don’t slow down, they wind up!
- Explore new things. Make a list of activities you’d like to try together and hang it somewhere the whole family can see.
- Build strength. Incorporate strength and flexibility into your family’s physical activity plan. This can be as simple as stretching during commercials or doing calf raises while brushing teeth.
- Find joy. Find something to laugh about with your family every day. Laughter reduces stress and anxiety.
- Spend time with loved ones. Instill the importance of forming strong relationships by being kind to our loved ones. Kids will learn that giving — not receiving — can create real happiness.
- Kick addictions. Make screen time a privilege that is allowed only after chores and homework are completed. Limit screen time to less than two hours a day, and keep screens out of your child’s bedroom.
- Reduce stress. Search online for free videos about yoga for children and families, or try incorporating deep breathing into your children’s bedtime routine. Children experience stress and anxiety just like we do.
- Show gratitude. Create a gratitude jar and encourage everyone to put a note in the jar each day with something they are grateful for. When you are all at the dinner table, take time to read them.
If you find yourself struggling to get your family on board, remember that modeling healthy behaviors is a good place to start. You may not be able to make your family change, but you can start on your own wellness journey. Once they see the changes you are making, chances are they will want to jump on board too.Alyssa Baker is a wellness facilitator with Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.