We all want our families to be happy. Many of the decisions we make on a daily basis involve happiness and making sure everyone feels loved and cared for. But did you know that happiness is often directly linked to health? Unless you’re paying attention to your family’s health, happiness may be elusive.
6 Tips for Creating a Healthy Family
As a parent, you have an obligation to help your kids be as happy as they possibly can. Whether they realize it or not, that happiness starts with being physically and mentally healthy. Here are some tips that will help you help them:
1. Laugh Together
How often do you laugh with your kids? Not just a little chuckle, but a genuine laugh that makes you catch your breath. Well, believe it or not, regularly laughing together leads to a healthier family.
As Rush University Medical Center explains, “A good belly laugh can rev up the immune system, lower stress hormones and even improve circulation by increasing blood flow. Get silly with your kids. Watch a funny movie together or swap jokes. Try to find the humor even in stressful situations.”
2. Cook Meals at Home
It’s important that you try to cut out as many processed foods from your diet as possible. Picking up to-go meals from restaurants or frozen dinners from the supermarket might be easy when you’ve had a busy day, but these options typically lack nutritional value.
Cooking at home is highly encouraged for two reasons. First off, it puts you in charge of the ingredients and usually eliminates a large percentage of processed foods from your diet. Secondly, it’s a bonding experience for your family. Cooking takes time and communication, which gives you a chance to grow closer with your kids and/or spouse.
3. Encourage Daily Exercise
Your entire family needs to be getting daily exercise. This can come in a variety of forms, which means there’s always an age-appropriate fitness routine for both kids and parents. This could look like going to the gym, running around the neighborhood, playing basketball in the driveway, or doing yoga in the living room. Discover a plan that works for you and try to get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.
4. Get Regular Checkups
Staying healthy means discovering health issues and potential problems before they become problematic. It might seem unnecessary when everyone in your family feels healthy, but annual checkups with your family physician are important.
In addition to identifying different health risks or problems, your doctor can work with your family to establish a plan for living healthier over the course of the next year. This will help you feel comfortable with your plan and tweak anything that seems out of line.
5. Play Games Together
Most parents know that excessive screen time is bad for their family’s health, but few know how to approach this problem the right way.
“Child development experts say that routinely plopping young children in front of the set when you’re feeling overwhelmed isn’t going to help their mental or physical health,” says Francine Russo, author of best selling parenting books. “But setting strict limits on kids’ screen time isn’t always effective either. And complete deprivation — removing sets from the family room and kids’ bedrooms — may not be a practical of limiting and controlling what youngsters watch.”
The real solution, at least according to experts, is for parents to lead by example. Kids will follow your lead in this area and consider your screen time to be “normal.” Instead of watching a bunch of TV, start family game time where you play board games after dinner. Not only do board games require constructive thinking, but they also allow for healthy conversation between members of your family.
6. Protect Skin During the Summer
Fifteen years ago, parents let kids run around outside without shirts, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Today, we know a lot more about the dangers of skin cancer and how early exposure can lead to problems later in life. Having said that, you need to be sure you’re protecting your kids’ skin – especially during the summer months when they’re (hopefully) spending a lot of time outdoors.
It’s also important to wear as much clothing as you comfortably can. The more covered you are, the more protected you’ll be.
Healthy Isn’t Always Easy
It’s easy to pick up McDonald’s and bring it home instead of cooking dinner for a family of four. It’s also easy to pop in a DVD instead of watching the kids play in the driveway. Do you know what else is pretty simple? Buying kids a video game console instead of finding quality board games and playing with them. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these decisions, too much of these things can hurt your family’s health.
Making healthy decisions isn’t always easy. It takes more time, planning, and energy. It even costs more money in some situations. But are you really going to give up on your family’s health because it’s slightly more time-consuming than taking the lazy way out?
You are the advocate and leader for your family. If you don’t make healthy choices, you can’t expect your kids to. Now’s the time to instigate positive change under your roof.