Most of us know that it’s important to develop and maintain healthy habits. This is not rocket science. And as you create healthy habits for yourself, you are probably also working to create healthy habits in your family. After all, they do go hand in hand. But the problem is not usually a desire to create healthy habits, but knowing where to begin. In this post, we’ll look at 5 steps for making healthy habits a regular part of your family’s lifestyle.
5 Steps to Create Healthy Habits in Your Family
1. Talk openly.
As you get started with making the shift towards healthy family habits, you will no doubt be putting an emphasis on improving your family’s diet and activity level, and other areas like sleep and stress. But just as important as developing healthy habits is creating an environment where you can communicate around these topics.
You want to create space for positive and open communication and define what healthy habits are as you are setting family goals. There should be a mix of identifying the goals for the family and goals for individual family members. Allow each person in the family to contribute their ideas and define what healthy habits means to them. And keep the conversation going around progress, challenges, and successes. This is part of demonstrating that each person in the family is valued and maintaining healthy communication around your family’s vision is a priority.
2. Focus on progress, not perfection.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You get an A for effort!”? That is the approach you want to take as you work on creating healthy habits at home, especially while encouraging your children to make healthier choices around food or activity. Keep in mind that the aim is not perfection; the goal is to create healthy habits in your family over time by helping your family members to continually make improvements towards healthier habits at their own pace. So, be generous with verbal rewards and praise. Recognize efforts just as much (or even moreso) than the the achievement itself. Every step towards building healthier habits should be celebrated.
3. Make it a year-round commitment.
It’s natural for us to jump on the “new years resolution” bandwagon every year, but the beginning of the year isn’t the only time to focus on our health and well-being or address unhealthy behaviors that we want to change. Rather than set goals once a year, make a healthy lifestyle a year-round priority within your home.
4. Establish predictable routines.
Healthy routines are essential for creating healthy habits at home. As you might know, the key for succeeding with goals is to ensure that you are setting SMART goals. We can borrow some of these principles and apply them here, too. You need to define what habits you’re working on and make them as specific as possible. In addition, you want to create routines (or an action plan) that supports these new habits.
For instance, if your family members are trying to “drink more water,” it helps to define how much water each person is aiming to drink each day. You might also foolproof this goal by filling reusable water bottles every morning. This routine of filling water bottles every morning ensures that water is “on tap” at all times, and supports the goal of boosting water intake.
The key to creating healthy habits at home is to show more than tell. It’s essential to model healthy habits rather than just talk about them. Creating an environment where the focus is on healthy habits provides a solid foundation for a lifetime e of great health for you and your children.
5. Make it easily accessible.
Parents are often in a position where they feel they are “policing” their children’s behavior. One way to eliminate the need to police your children’s choices is to make healthy choices a no-brainer for your child. Rather than continually gate-keeping the pantry and refrigerator to monitor how many cookies they are having, or how much juice they are drinking – a better route is to not have these items in the home in the first place. Instead, give your entire family access to an abundant supply of healthy food options. This enables them to make easier choices for healthy foods and snacks, and keeps you from being the “bad guy.”
Create Healthy Habits in Your Family: The Bottom Line
Every parent is looking for ways to establish a healthy environment at home, but with our busy, on-the-go lifestye it can feel impossible to establish healthy routines – let alone make these a habit.
Creating healthy habits at home is an effort that requires a commitment, dedication, and consistency. When we devote our time and attention to improving our family’s well-being, we can create healthy routines at home that support healthy eating choices, an active lifestyle, healthy relationships, and even improved self-esteem.
Most likely, you already have some good routines and habits established at home. With a bit of extra effort, you can take your dreams for a healthy family life and turn them into a sustainable, healthy lifestyle for the whole family.
Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Advocate, Health Educator, and a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. She helps parents to build healthier habits and routines to better balance home and work life. Her website, WholeFamilyLiving.com, provides motivation and simple strategies for handling everyday challenges like managing stress, being active, eating healthier, losing weight, and more. Alicia is a beach lover and gardening geek in her spare time.