5 Top Tips For Healthy Family Habits This Spring
For many, spring is a time for fresh starts. It could cleaning out your closet, dusting the pantry, or starting new habits as a family. There’s no better time to start than the present moment. Follow these 5 easy tips for an active and flourishing future!
Creating a family meal together is a healthy family habit on multiple levels. First, it gives you the opportunity to introduce healthy eating habits to your children. Teach them which foods are good to eat, and why. Which foods are in season right now? How do you like to cook them?
Giving children exposure to a variety of healthy foods will also make them more likely to enjoy these foods. According to research, “[C]hildren like what they know and they eat what they like. From the very earliest age, children’s experiences with food influence both preferences and intake, and research suggests that the earlier and broader that experience, the healthier the child’s diet.”
Not only that, but cooking together is a great way to bond. Children will learn how to work together with others to achieve a bigger goal, and can still have fun along the way. If it gets a little messy, that’s even more room for laughter!
Between sports, after school activities, and work, being a parent is busy! It’s easy to forget just how important it is to get outside as a family.
When we go outside and experience nature, our minds and bodies start to relax. We get to take a break from a potentially stressful environment and enjoy being outdoors. This isn’t just a “feel good” thought. The health benefits of being outside are now backed by science.
Research conducted by Demark’s University of Aarhus discovered significant mental health benefits for children who experienced more time outside. The study found that “childhood exposure to green space—parks, forests, rural lands, etc.—reduces the risk for developing an array of psychiatric disorders during adolescence and adulthood.” These disorders include anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Being outside is also fantastic for physical health! Play a game of catch, go for a walk, skip rope, or ride bikes. Moving the body and elevating the heart rate keeps us healthy. It also teaches children that exercise can be fun! By starting healthy family habits from a young age, you are positively setting your child up for the rest of their life.
Read Before Bed
It’s easy to turn on the TV before bedtime and “wind down” while watching a movie or cartoons. The days are long – we understand! While it might seem helpful for relaxing, the light given off by the television can actually stimulate the mind and have the opposite effect. Light given off my electronic screens are made up of “blue light,” which resembles sunshine during the day. This signals to our bodies that it’s time to wake up, even though we might be watching TV before bed.
A more mindful and relaxing way to get ready for bed is to read out loud together. Reading has so many wonderful benefits! Whether you read to your child or they read to you, they are learning new vocabulary and phonics. Plus, they will get to read about new stories that spark their imaginations, as well as getting to spend time together with you.
Ask About the “Rose” and “Thorn”
Every parent knows the struggle of asking their child what happened at school today, and receiving the response, “nothing.” Use this pointed and fun question to spark some conversation: What was the rose/thorn of your day? Asking about the “rose” is asking about the best thing that happened during your child’s day, and the “thorn” is the worst thing that happened during the day.
Together, you can enjoy the best highlights while also sharing the emotions of experiences that were not as great. This is a great practice for learning to communicate feelings with others. And, of course, this also allows you as a parent to be able to support your child during difficult times and celebrate the happy ones.
Prioritize Your Healthy Family Habits!
Schedules get hectic. Good intentions and habits are easily lost if specific time is not set aside for them. Pencil in specific days to go for a walk, or maybe make family meals together every Sunday. By having a plan in place, your healthy family habits will be much easier to maintain!