The end of the year is a great time for personal and financial accounting. But it is also a good time to take stock as a family on matters regarding your family’s health. Establishing good health habits in children now when they are young will help them become adults who fall into a healthy lifestyle more easily than their counterparts.
Here are some steps you can take that will not only help give your whole family a health tune-up. But also set the tone for the year to come.
- Start with a family meeting.
From nutrition to fitness to health checkups, getting everyone on the same page can take time. What better way than through discussing it altogether. Of course, you and your partner should know the major points you want to cover beforehand. And avoid putting anyone on the spot by handling sensitive issues privately. For example, if one of your children is battling with a food disorder or with overeating, these kinds of issues take delicacy to handle. So have an outline of safe topics you can cover together, but also a separate list that might need some one on one time with your child.
- Schedule all your medical appointments and checkups for next year.
When was the last time your children had an eye exam? Or went to the dentist? According to Lane Family Dental, a Wasilla dentist, “Too many people make the mistake of waiting to visit a dentist until their tooth hurts.” But there are other signs you should watch for that include bleeding or sensitive gums and loose teeth. Also, simply going in for plaque removal is a good habit to cultivate in your children.
List up all the health appointments and checkups you have been putting off for your whole crew. This includes checks up for you and your partner. And take an afternoon to schedule appointments for them throughout the next year. Even if you do not know your schedule that far in advance, the act of putting it on your calendar will keep the date in mind. And help you not take the easy way out.
- Have a plan for family fitness.
Obesity now affects 1 child in 6 in the US. And food restriction will only get you so far. Fitness is a key player in keeping childhood obesity away. If you have that rare family where every member is involved in after-school sports, then perhaps family fitness is not an issue for you. But for many families in the US, getting your children to exercise and move about is a challenge. And your kid might not be getting as much outdoor play time at school as you had initially thought. Make fitness in your family a goal everyone unites around. Take walks as a family before or after dinner. Play a sport together. Get fitness trackers for every member and see who can log in the most steps per day. Find out what kind of outdoor activity appeals to your kid and focus on doing that.
- Eat better and eat together.
The second aspect of obesity prevention is eating healthier overall. And it is not only obesity we should worry about when making food choices at the supermarket. Foods that are high in fats, sugar, and refined grains are just not as good for you as foods found in the vegetable aisle. Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible. This might mean getting out your kitchen knife and cutting board and perhaps foregoing microwave dinners. But you will feel better and have more energy as a result. There are many ways to work around busy schedules in order to have one healthy home-cooked meal per day. One popular idea is to do a week’s worth of cooking and meal prep on Sunday. And freeze the meals and ingredients and put aside for use throughout the week. Educate everyone in the family on what a healthy meal looks like.
A final note: An article on family health would not be complete without taking the emotional health of our loved ones into consideration. Spending time with each of our children, our partner, and then everyone together is a challenge for any parent. But eating dinners together as a family is an activity that ranks high on experts’ lists of activities that help keep families together. Why not try it out this year and see how it works for yours?