Does making time for more physical activity and better nutritional choices on a busy schedule seem daunting? You aren’t alone, in fact most families struggle with making time for healthy choices. But the small choices we make every day for ourselves and our family have a large impact on our overall health, wellness, and happiness.

So what can busy moms and dads do to incorporate healthy resolutions throughout the year? You can design a schedule that makes eating healthy and staying active a priority for you and your kids, while reducing some of the less healthy habits—like excessive ‘screen time’ and poor nutrition. A healthy life starts with a plan, and we’ll show you how your children can help as accountability partners to make it stick!

Starting with Sleep

Do you know that the medically recommended amount of sleep time for a child aged 3 to 12 years is 10 to 12 hours per night? Establishing healthy sleep habits for the entire family should be a priority, as it is a top contributor to number of health risks and behavioral problems? Some of the signs of sleep deprivation in children include:

  • Frequent napping and drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Resistance to waking up in the morning
  • Irritability or defiant behaviors
  • Excessive talking (frenzied conversation)
  • Increased eating and snacking
  • Emotional hyper-sensitivity

‘Screen time’ (computer or gaming time) can dramatically impact healthy sleep patterns. Setting rules that limit the use of digital devices two hours before bedtime can help solve problems with insomnia, and establishing a routine bed-time will help children (and grown-ups too!) sustain healthy sleeping habits.

Tip: Consider voluntary digital device surrender. Parents who remove devices from children in the evening and return access in the morning enjoy more face time with their kids, who become eager to engage in other more social activities.

Home Food

Staying at home and eating-in is the trend for families who understand that the best nutritional choices are usually made at home. The trend continues with families packing their own lunches (rather than eating out), and taking home-food and healthy snacks to go from their own kitchen, where portion size is controlled.

It’s cool to pack a lunch again! Allow children to help you pack school lunches every evening, and give them some choice to customize their lunch with healthy snack options. Making them part of the process is important to avoiding the dreaded “lunch box let-down,” and makes healthy eating a priority for the entire family.

Tip: Consider creating a restaurant style meal plan every week. Design a creative template with your family name and include family favorites. Post it on your fridge so that the entire family has the meal plan and can look forward to healthy dinners (and leftovers) for the week.

Keep Moving!

After a long day of work and school everyone can feel tired, but feeling mentally tired is not the same as being physically tired. And sedentary activities, such as gaming or watching a movie, can lead to health problems, anxiety, and even stress. No matter what age you are, the body needs to keep moving!

Tip: Create a fun fitness schedule. Games like Twister are exciting ways to stretch and move indoors. Walks, bicycle riding, hiking or even scavenger hunts at your local park. Explore new playgrounds and public recreation activities, and experiment with new sports, or opportunities such as charitable walks. Get a family pass to an indoor pool and make swimming a fun thing to look forward to as a family each week.

The key to creating a healthy lifestyle is persistence. Create weekly opportunities and a culture of wellness in your household by leading through example. Give children the opportunity to partake in the planning of all healthy activities and educate them so that they understand the importance of putting health and wellness first, and how easy it is to make it part of your weekly schedule.

What you teach children now through example will be the blueprint for their own personal lifestyle choices in the future. Teach them successful habits that put health first.