A new year may bring many hopes for change in our lives. Many people would like to make improvements and some changes in their family life. Megan Wallgren and the folks at Familyshare.com list ten habits of healthy families at http://familyshare.com/10-habits-of-healthy-families.
- Huff it or bike to it when possible: Wallgren discusses creating a no-drive zone around your neighborhood, and replacing it with a fun zone of places to walk to in your immediate area. This list might include: school, friends’ homes for playdates, playgrounds, etc.
- Drink water: Nix the sugar and empty calories. Drinking water keeps us hydrated and increases energy.
- Quality sleep: Wallgren suggests a reasonable bedtime for everyone in the house, as not enough sleep leads to fatigue, difficulties with concentration, fighting, and tantrums.
- Get outside: Even though the weather might be cold, even short stints outside can do wonders to improve mood, concentration, increase healing, and spur imagination. Bundle up of course!
- Limit screen time (all screen time) and instead focus on a game or project. Accomplishing something as a family leads to improved overall health and increased self-esteem.
- Have fun in your backyard. Use this area to play games, grow a garden, take in nature, and get to know your neighbors.
- Eat together. It has been found that families that eat together consume less calories; strengthen family bonds; are less likely to have substance abuse problems or eating disorders; and are more likely to have their children graduate from high school.
- Home grown: Be it gardening, raising chickens, or be it keeping bees, such activities not only provide for the family, but teach hard work and self-reliance.
- Exercise as a family, exercise alone. When families walk, bike, or hike together, their children are more likely to carry these activities into adulthood. When children see their parents exercising alone, it also sets a good example of good behavior. Enjoy some alone time or invite your children to join you.
- Be service minded and pay it forward: Serving and helping others in need builds selflessness, gratitude, and civic mindedness. It can be as easy as donating non-perishable foods to a food drive or shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway to volunteering at a soup kitchen or welcoming the new family in the neighborhood.
Wallgren reminds us of Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Like anything else, when parents teach these habits to their children, they are more likely to take them into adulthood. Healthy habits now mean less chances of things like heart disease, diabetes, stress, and depression later….