For the past few years, the health of our country has been the national “hot topic” as a result of living through a pandemic. Parents have quickly become pseudo-experts on how to protect the health and well-being of their family. Personally, it can feel overwhelming to make drastic changes in our family’s lifestyle even if it means these adjustments would benefit us. Most days all my husband and I have enthusiasm for is getting those extra 15 minutes of sleep if the kids “sleep in” past 6:30 a.m.
However, sometimes small incremental lifestyle changes can produce positive and impactful results long-term. In fact, I find that when I make minor improvements in our family’s lifestyle, it inspires other benefits. Plus, committing to a handful of simple wellness goals feels more realistic and doable in the hustle and bustle of daily parenting life. Read on for 10 small things my family and I are doing to improve our health this year.
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2. Incorporate Family Walks
When you have young children, going to the gym on any given day can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Why not consider incorporating family walks—perhaps after dinner as a way to increase your family’s physical well-being? Make it part of your routine to take family walks and explore different parts of your neighborhood. Walking can support your digestion and improve your family’s mental health. Plus, getting out of the house together is a lovely bonding experience that can become a family tradition.
3. Implement Screen Time Breaks
It may feel virtually impossible for all members of the family to be screen-free for 24 hours. However, making some small incremental changes to reduce screen time for all members of the family can prove beneficial both short and long-term. Putting away the screens for a certain amount of time can inspire other healthy habits and also allow for more time for family convos. I find when we remove the screens, we feel more at ease, have more patience for the slowness of our day, and are overall more in tune with each other. Start small with just 30 minutes and increase it over time.
4. Plan Out Weekly Meals
If I don’t plan out our meals, I end up making not-so-healthy choices because I am hangry, tired, and overwhelmed from managing all my other responsibilities. Plus, with my picky eaters, I need to be strategic to have meals that are tasty and also nutritious, which is no easy feat! I recommend taking time over the weekend to plan out your menu for the week so you can be intentional in what healthy choices you will serve your family. This removes the rushing-desperately-to-the-supermarket situation or ordering fast food because you don’t have many options in the fridge. Below are two family meal planning tools that can help you stay organized and healthy!
Quiet time has been a game changer in our house. We try to allot 20 minutes of our day several times a week for all of us to take time to be quiet, reflect, and rest without any distractions. At first, this proved challenging for both adults and children. But now, my children actually ask for it because they enjoy having time to themselves to read their favorite book or play with their noiseless toys independently. When your kids are very young, quiet time can be when they nap, but when they are a little older, you can incorporate small increments of rest that will leave you all feeling replenished.
6. Maintain a Family Bedtime Routine
Sticking to a bedtime routine is hard to do when you have little ones who have erratic sleep patterns. Nonetheless, maintaining some semblance of a bedtime routine for both grown-ups and children can set up everyone for sleepy-time success. Healthy sleep habits are vital to our well-being, so prioritizing sleep early on for your kids can build positive sleep habits. Plus, when we as parents are rested, we can be the best versions of ourselves for our children. Better sleep has become a non-negotiable in our house.
7. Schedule Annual Wellness Visits
Moms are great at maintaining their family’s health, but what about their own? When was the last time you and your partner had your annual physical exam? Our family is committed to making sure we are up-to-date with all of our medical appointments so we can be proactive with our health. It can be very easy to postpone our appointments and just focus on our kids. My partner and I have decided to keep each other accountable for seeing our primary care physicians to ensure optimal health.
8. Monitor Water Intake
Our family has made a promise to increase our overall water intake so we are each drinking what is recommended. An easy way to keep all of us in check is we each have our own specific water bottle that helps us keep track of how much water we’ve had during the day. Water sustains our bodies, so we prioritize drinking the right amount for our bodies above any other liquids. Before we did this, I found that I would only drink very minimal water. Now, I take a more proactive approach to how much water we each drink daily.
9. Wear Sunscreen and Protective Sun Gear
If your kids are like mine, they do not enjoy it when I apply sunscreen. I feel like I am wrestling a wild animal when I try to put any on their skin! However, sun protection is vital to our health, so we now make sure we are fully protected with sunscreen and a sunhat when we are outdoors. It’s not always fun putting on protective sunscreen and a sunhat, but your skin will thank you years from now. Below are some of our favorite products.
10. Take a Family Day Trip or Two
I know there is always more work to do and more money that can be saved, but taking a family day trip is easier on the wallet and won’t greatly impact your schedule. We all need time to unplug and get away anyway. Plan in advance where you will go so you have something to look forward to and make sure you do not take your work computer so you can be fully present. This models to our children the importance of work-life balance and demonstrates your commitment to your family quality time. Every time we go on a day trip, I feel invigorated (but still exhausted—hello, parenthood!) and inspired. Taking a break is good for the body and soul.
This post was in partnership with Rainbow Light but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.