Jingle bells may no longer be ringing in your ears, but the constant barrage of New Year’s resolution pressure probably is! Yet for all the commercials that promise the next great way to shed pounds or get more physically active in the New Year, children are left out of the resolution discussion. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t be involved in setting healthy goals. Why not turn your New Year’s goals into a family affair?
For children, the goal shouldn’t be “pounds lost” but “healthy habits made.” Set an example for your children by not trying every fad diet but instead making a more concerted resolution to live a healthy lifestyle. Here are some fun ideas to involve your kids in your healthful resolutions:
- Plan family exercise
Exercise doesn’t have to take place in a gym and you don’t have to be sweating up a storm to get positive benefits from being physically active. Create a family activity calendar (print one here)! Plan a brisk, 30-minute family walk each night after dinner or schedule a weekly family tennis game. When everyone in the family looks forward to this healthy time together, it’s going to be a lot harder to come up with excuses not to exercise.
- Include your kids in meal planning and preparation
Make a shopping list of healthy foods (print one here) and bring your children with you to the grocery store to help you shop. Plan on making a salad and let them choose what vegetables, protein (chicken, shrimp) or garnishes (nuts/seeds, dried fruit) to include.
Another idea is to make sack lunch preparation a family bonding experience. When packing lunches together, invite your children to choose which healthy foods to include (“Which fruit would you like? A pear, an apple or an orange?”) This will help your children get a better understanding of balanced nutrition while also learning planning and preparation skills.
- Set limits on TV/videogame time
This may be a hard resolution for which to get approval from the family. But when you plan replacement activities (see point #1) that kids and parents can look forward to, it can be a lot easier. Involve your kids in planning family events! And when you do have TV/videogame time, keep track of how many hours you spend in front of the screen (print a screen time log here). What’s keeping you from incorporating exercise into screen time? Buy a dance- or exercise-based videogame that involves the whole family (perfect for rainy, cold winter days!) During TV commercials, do jumping jacks and see which family member can do the most before the show comes back on.
Habits like these, when learned young can become lifetime habits that make a huge difference in health. Since one of the main ways children learn is by example, set a good one! When you demonstrate and involve your children in setting and sticking to healthy resolutions and keeping a healthy body image, you’re setting them up for success. Of course, there may be roadblocks but there are ways around them. And when you make New Year’s resolutions a family affair, you can rely on each other to stick to them! You have a support team built in to your resolution!
Click here to get more tips for keeping your family healthy in the New Year and setting healthy goals for both adults and children. Swedish also hosts many free and low cost classes on nutrition that can help you and your family stick to your resolutions. Visit www.swedish.org/classes and come join us!