How to Live the Healthy Life You Want for Your Family
Yesterday morning, at almost 10 a.m., I was still lounging in bed. I was nursing a headache and sore throat, so gave myself some permission to just relax instead of the usual Saturday running around. My son played on my iPad, while my daughter watched cartoons. My husband relaxed on the sofa, phone in hand. The children drifted from time to time between the bedroom and the family room, never relinquishing their commitment to the screens for too long.
I pulled out my phone and decided to work a bit. My first order of business was to review a guest post from a fellow mommy blogger. The timing of the message couldn’t be any more perfect. It prompted me to get out of bed, turn off the devices that can be so addicting, and get moving. We put on some music and enjoyed all together, not without some protest though.
Technology is amazing and there are so many benefits that we all enjoy, but we must know when to draw the line. We must not let technology overtake and overwhelm the precious moments we have with our families. Our physical, mental and emotional wellness is dependent on maintaining a healthy balance and knowing when and where to put devices away, and just spend some quality “human” time together.
I am so delighted to invite Jude-Anne Phillip as ispeakmom.com’s first guest blogger. You can find Jude-Anne’s insightful reflections on motherhood and raising a family over at The Mummyhood Journals. Today she shares her own struggles with maintaining a healthy family lifestyle and how she’s promoting wellness within her own little family. Thanks for sharing with us Jude-Anne!
Mothers are busy creatures, no doubt about it. With work, kids, chores, and on and on we barely have time to breathe, much less focus on making healthy choices for ourselves and our families one hundred per cent of the time.
When we are too tired to cook, eating the quickest and greasiest things you could find seems like the best idea (I mean French fries are potatoes, so it should be fine right). Or when the weekend comes around and this is finally our time to sleep in, we spend the weekend doing just that and send our kids off to entertain themselves with television or some other device with a screen.
Without realizing it, our kids are becoming unhealthy, sedentary and screen addicted, the very things we complain about, because of us.
Now I have to admit that my husband and I are guilty of this. For the past year we have not been the epitome of healthy choices, him with his love for video games and me with my love for all desserts.
Children are very impressionable and believe it or not, they were not born with an affinity for snacks and video games. They learn these preferences from those around them. From infancy they look at us and observe us, everything we do and everything we say, and when every interaction involves a phone, a laptop or a jumbo slice of chocolate cake (yum), they start to interpret these behaviours as the norm and follow suit.
My five-year-old for example is not a picky eater, luckily, and he actually loves vegetables, fruits and drinking water. But when he sees me or his dad snacking on some cookies instead of an apple or drinking soda instead of water, he naturally wants what we are having … forget healthy.
Most of his actions and decisions are a reflection of the examples that we set for him and because of this we are making a conscious effort to do right by him and his brother. Here’s what we’re doing to encourage family wellness, maybe you can try it too!
Every morning when my eldest son wakes up he does ten jumping jacks and runs in place with high knees. He starts his day with exercise to get his blood pumping. Now it would be pointless and, quite frankly, unfair, to have him exercising while the adults in the household continue to be sloths. So we all make an effort to exercise and we make sure that our children see us exercising.
Every Saturday we wake up early (arrgh) and go for family walks. We spend about 2 hours outdoors running, playing, climbing trees and just having fun. Apart from adding to our weekly exercise quota, this outdoor time allows us to have quality family time together and because we get an early start to the day, by the time we are finished it is still early enough to do other things if we feel like it. In addition, after school he always gets some outdoor time with his dog before he starts his homework.
This one is difficult, I would admit, especially since our whole family (baby included) are foodies. To make the transition a bit easier, we have started to mix in healthy snacking with the not so healthy snacking. So today my snack may be nuts, raisins or a banana but I may allow myself to have a cookie tomorrow (make sure it is just one and not one pack). We balance the good with the bad and if there is something we do not want our son to eat, we don’t eat it (unless you want to be interrogated about why it is unhealthy for him but not for us).
Limit screen time
As I mentioned, my family is a video gaming family and we do love a good movie. So it is easy for us to get wrapped up in the false reality that technology offers. Because of this our son is not allowed to play video games during the week, particularly when there is school. During the vacation time we are little more lenient but it is still controlled. When he comes home from school, after his outdoor time with the dog, he does his homework; reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic; he has his dinner and then he gets ready for bed. We may read a bedtime story or sometimes we allow him to watch a show for 30 minutes before going to sleep.
As a result of the controlled screen time I have found that it doesn’t become a battle to the death when I tell him to turn off the game or to go and do something else and, sometimes, he even does it without my prompts.
My husband and I are slowly but surely trying to transform our household into a healthy home for the sake of our kids’ and our health and well being. We still have a long way to go until we get it completely right but we are taking the plunge together and are committed to leading our kids down the right path.
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