As we enter into a new year many set New Year's Resolutions for themselves. There’s something magical and inspiring about starting a new year that encourages changing habits and setting goals for ourselves. But equally as important as setting goals for ourselves is prioritizing the health of our kids and families as a whole. As we dive into the new year, it's the perfect time to reflect on the crucial role we play in shaping the health and happiness of our families. I encourage you in this time of reflection to consider making New Year's resolutions for how you approach the health of your whole family, because small shifts can encourage not just healthier habits but also establish the foundation for lifelong health and well-being. Here’s 4 New Year's Resolutions I love for families.
Eat More Family Meals
Eating isn’t just about nourishing our bodies and making sure kids check off certain food groups. And eating as a family helps kids get more benefits from mealtimes than just nourishment. Family meals can create stronger bonds with you and your kids. Family meals also help with emotional and mental well-being, as well as improve language skills. Family meals are also linked to improved diet quality, but as you can see there’s so many more benefits. You can read more about the benefits in a previous blog post: Why You Should Eat Meals with Your Kids and How to Make it Happen. I love this as a New Year's Resolution for families.
Here’s some ways to make it happen:
- Set realistic expectations. If you don’t eat as a family regularly, finding one night out of the week to eat together should be the initial goal.
- Have a plan. For the nights you eat together pre-determine which nights they will be going into the week. And have a rough idea of what you are making.
- Keep it simple. If you are new to eating as a family, make something most of the family likes or that is super easy to make. And if that is hard, family meals can also be accomplished with ordering take-out and eating all together.
I have more ideas for making family meals easier in the blog post: Keeping Family Dinners Simple: Enjoying Mealtime Together with Ease
Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake
You may feel like your kids should eat more fruits and veggies. But it may also feel like mission impossible to get any more into your kids. Fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of nutrients, which kids need to support growth, immune health, and disease prevention. A good goal is 5 servings a day, which equals a medium piece of fruit, 1 cup of fruit or raw veggies or ½ cup of cooked veggies. These servings are appropriate for older kids and adults, but for younger kids you can cut portions in half. If your kids (and you) are lacking in fruits and vegetables, here’s some ideas to get more in:
- Get in the habit of adding fruits or veggies to every meal. It can be some berries at breakfast or carrot sticks at lunch. Keep it simple with ones your kids like to start out and establish the habit.
- Set out a snack plate of fruits and veggies after school when kids walk in the door and are hungry.
- Have fruit as an after dinner snack.
- Blend or add vegetables into dishes you may not regularly, like pasta sauce, lasagne, macaroni and cheese, burgers, enchiladas.
Establish Healthy Sleep and Rest Routines
Sleep and rest are essential pieces of a healthy lifestyle. And for kids it may be even more important. Getting enough sleep positively impacts physical growth and development, helps to regulate emotions and behavior, and helps kids focus better at school. This is another good resolution for families. Here’s some ways to prioritize rest and sleep for kids:
- Create a sleep routine. Consistency around your child’s natural biological clock will help make bedtimes easier. Have a routine of calming activities for the last half hour before bed, like a bath or shower, followed by reading.
- Limit screens. Screens make it harder for the brain to wind down, so it’s recommended to remove screens the hour before bed, especially for kids (but this is also a great idea for parents too).
- Kids may need additional rest. Outside of sleeping hours, kids also need relaxation and rest. And for kids who no longer nap, there can be benefit to quiet time where they can engage in calm activities independently. Some ideas include reading, coloring or doing puzzles.
Increase Physical Activity
Many kids and parents alike can benefit from increased physical activity. Most associate physical activity with improved strength, supporting weight management and prevention of disease. Physical activity also enhances mental well-being, improves sleep, reduces stress and increases energy. These benefits are great for parents and for kids. So a great resolution for the whole family. And if your New Years resolution about increasing physical activity includes increasing activities you can do as a family there’s the added benefits of stronger family bonds and creating family culture that prioritizes well-being. There are so many ways to increase physical activity as a family. Here’s some ideas:
- Go on regular family walks. This doesn’t have to be a big adjustment. It could be as simple as a 15 minute walk after dinner. If you have a dog, maybe everyone goes to walk the dog. Or it could be a regular longer walk on weekends.
- Or set aside time for other fun family activities on weekends. This could be a bike ride, a hike, sledding, paddle boarding, or playing mini golf.
- Play team sports. There’s so many options to incorporate a little competition into being active. Basketball, soccer and baseball can all be fun and you can play with just a few or many.
- Try for fun indoor activities too. If you spend parts of the year primarily indoors, you can still be active. Clear out furniture and have a dance party, do some yoga or a family friendly body weight exercise class online.
These resolutions are not just ideas; they are powerful steps toward a healthier and happier family life. I believe in your ability to make positive changes, no matter how small, that will have a lasting impact on your family's well-being. Consider the benefits, envision the positive changes, and remember that even the smallest steps can lead to remarkable transformations.
As we embark on a new year,, I challenge you to pick one of these resolutions or choose another health-related goal that resonates with your family. Personalize it to fit your unique needs and the ages of your kids. Your commitment to prioritizing health in 2024 is a gift to your family, and I'm here to support you, should you need it.
Here's to a vibrant and fulfilling 2024 for you and your family!