Looking to incorporate some new healthy habits for kids into your daily regimen? Consider starting a family health challenge!
Most of us respond well to a little friendly competition. And let’s face it, we could all benefit from working to improve our mind and body.
A family health challenge is a great way to jump start and achieve those health goals you’ve been putting off. Read on for some ideas for how to get started!
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How Can We Keep Our Family Healthy?
Proper health starts by taking care of all aspects of the body. Step back and look at yourself as a whole.
For instance, improving the circulatory system could consist of exercise and a healthy diet. The mind can be worked by reading a book or doing crossword puzzles. Muscles from stretching, the heart/emotions by meditating, teeth by flossing, etc.
Identifying important healthy habits for kids and the whole family is a great way to start on your new health journey.
How Do You Start a Family Health Challenge?
Begin by choosing an official start date for your upcoming family health challenge.
From there, choose some health goals (see ideas for healthy habits for kids and adults below!) and a reward. You’ll also want to decide how long you want the challenge to officially last.
Get the kid involved by letting them pick what health habits they think they can add. Let them use their creative energy to design a sticker chart or tracker. And you know they’ll like picking the reward for a successful challenge!
Here are a few more factors to consider. Decide if you want it to be more of a whole family challenge (where you’re all working towards a common goal) or an individual competition (where there is a “winner”). You’ll also want to think about whether you want to introduce all the health ideas at once or if you’d rather stagger them.
It’s important not to get overzealous or unrealistic as you are designing your family health challenge. You don’t want to make more work for yourself or cause the family to get discouraged.
Some families may respond well to having a long list of health goals, others may benefit by concentrating on just one to incorporate into their daily schedule. Remember that knowing your limits is healthy too!
15 Healthy Habits for Kids and Families
Here are some ideas and inspiration for your family health challenge!
Start as simple and basic as you want to, it doesn’t have to be fancy. The idea is to reinforce healthy habits for kids and the family over and over again until they become habit and second nature.
It’s healthy for everyone, adults and kids. You know you’re not getting enough nights of consistent sleep. Plus, earlier kid bedtimes means more quiet time for parents!
Turn off the Screen
Make a family health challenge item to have the whole family to turn off electronic devices at least one hour prior to bedtime. Minimizing screen time before bed has shown to greatly increase the quality of sleep.
Take a Daily Vitamin
Ideally we’d get all of the nutrients our bodies require from diet alone. But unless you’re carefully planning your meals (and your family actually eats those meals), chances are you’re falling short.
Supplementing with a daily multipurpose vitamin is a great start to proper nutrition. For kids, it’s also essential for healthy development and building a strong immune system.
Don’t know where to start? We highly recommend ‘Llama Naturals’ vitamins (they have different ones for kids and adults). They’re an all-natural blend of organically grown fruits/vegetables and contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals. No corn syrup or sugar is added and they’re made in the USA.
Between work and school, we often spend most of our time indoors, but getting outside is great for both our physical and mental health. So challenge your family to get some fresh air and sunlight.
Set a goal of a certain amount of outdoor time or a specific activity, like gardening, walking, or having picnics.
Though we all know that we should drink water, many of us are not actually drinking enough which can make us feel tired, cause constipation and headaches, and has been linked to obesity.
A simple family health goal is to increase your water consumption.
How much water you should drink can depend on many factors from your body size to your activity level and weather, but the rule of thumb of 8 cups per day is a good place to start. For kids, Children’s Hospital of Orange County recommends one cup for every year of age.
Making a specific goal can help your family achieve it, like switching out sugary drinks for water or drinking an entire water bottle throughout the day. Motivational water bottles with time markers can make this more fun, help you keep track, and serve as a reminder of your goal.
If your kids are resistant to drinking water try using fun straws or adding pieces of fruit.
Talk About Feelings
Mental health is just as important as your physical well-being. Get into a habit of expressing yourself in a respectful way when things make you happy, sad, frustrated, nervous, etc.
Feelings are normal and it’s so important to normalize recognizing and expressing them.
Everyone in the family, including the kiddos, as part of any family health challenge should be brushing their teeth twice a day without needing a prompt or reminder from parents.
Make 30 minutes of physical activity every day a goal for your family. Finding ways to become more active in your daily routine like walking or biking to school or work can help this habit stick.
By setting aside a specific time making sure the activity is fun and enjoyable, your family is more likely to succeed. If you’re struggling to get everyone up and moving try dance parties, yoga (Cosmic Kids Yoga is great for little kids), or superhero workouts from Get Kids Moving.
Switch to a Healthy Snack
Rather than the usual junk food, opt for a healthier option like a fruit or veggie.
Institute a daily D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time. To set the best example for your kids, and to help instill a lifelong love of reading, make sure the whole family is participating. The more kids see you and other adults enjoying a book (and putting our phones away), the better.
For younger kids, this time will be reading picture books to them. As they get older, they can read simple books to you or you can read chapter books aloud. Before you know it, they’ll enjoy reading all by themselves!
Take the time to talk about the importance of kind words and actions.
Be sure to give examples of how you went out of your way to do something nice for someone. It could be something small by giving someone a compliment or helping them with a task.
Alternatively, you can instill good behavior by teaching appreciation for another’s kindness and being grateful for everything that we have.
Meditation is a great way to lower your stress and improve your mood and even your sleep. Challenge your family to take up mediation on a daily basis.
Unless you already practice this, you may need some help to start out. Calm and Headspace or two free apps that offer some limited free features you can use to get started. Youtube also has lots of free guided meditations and even some like New Horizon that include ones specifically for kids.
Protect Yourselves From The Sun
Make sun safety a habit! We should all be protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays every day. It’s important to wear sunglasses and make sure to use sunscreen and reapply often. Also, cover up with hats and even rash guard bathing suits particularly during peak sun hours.
Sun safety is so important and knowing all the ins and outs can be exhausting. Want a good place to start? We recommend checking out ‘Everything You Need to Know About Sun Safety for Kids’ for a quick but comprehensive reference.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also the meal we’re most likely to skip. Not only should we challenge our family to eat breakfast, but also to make sure it’s a balanced meal. Many of the common, easy breakfast foods are very high in sugar and not particularly nutritious.
Pack energy in your breakfast by including carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Make this challenge easier by stocking your pantry with healthy breakfast options or preparing them ahead of time.
Regularly eating dinner as a family has repeatedly been shown to be very beneficial for children of all ages. Who knew something so simple could have positive impacts ranging from developmental to physical and mental health?
I know we’re all busy and it can be difficult to get the whole family around the table without TVs and phones at the same time. But challenge yourselves to do your best to connect as a family during dinner whenever possible.
The benefits of making family dinner part of your routine include increased vocabulary and academic achievement as well as lower rates of obesity, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse.