This guide shows you 12 ways to improve family wellness this year. Create new routines that help you and your family to live a healthy, more fulfilled lifestyle.
Getting into healthy routines is a struggle for many people today. And it can be even more challenging when you’re goals involve getting the entire family on board with a new, healthy lifestyle. Most families say they want to work on setting healthy family goals but simply don’t know how to improve family wellness with all of the everyday stress and distractions. Whether it’s the demands of a busy work schedule, school activities, or social media, family wellness can sometimes end up towards the bottom of the list of priorities.
In this article, I’ll share with you 12 ideas for improving your family wellness. Each of these tips falls under one of the six categories of Family Wellness discussed in the guide.
If creating a plan to improve family wellness has been a struggle for you and your family, keep reading. Below, you’ll learn 12 ways to start improving your family wellness today. Focus on one tip at a time until you have new routines in place that help you and your family to create and maintain a healthy, more fulfilled lifestyle.
1. Eat meals together.
Having a regular routine around either preparing or eating meals together is a great way to improve family wellness and bonding. But does it seem that your busy family schedule makes it difficult to eat together regularly? While an official sit-down dinner every single night at 6 p.m. may be unrealistic, it’s quite possible to still connect with the family over mealtime several times per week.
Make the commitment to put mealtime as a priority. You may not be able to sit down every single night for dinner, but work towards breaking bread with family on a regular basis so this becomes the norm, not the exception.
Open the conversation by enlightening your family members about your desired goals around preparing meals and eating together as a family. Ask for their input and involvement.
If everyone is usually scattered at mealtime, it may be time to adjust your strategy. Corral your family members ahead of time so they know that dinnertime is approaching. Oftentimes, we assume that everyone is “too busy” but really, it’s just a lack of planning and communication.
And dinner is not the only meal that can be enjoyed together with family. Designate enough time in the mornings to eat breakfast together, or plan leisurely weekend brunches to get everyone together and connected.
Establishing these routines around meals can also help your children to establish healthy eating habits of their own as they grow up. In addition, they learn the value of having structure and routines, as well as table manners.
2. Simplify your family schedule.
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about how families have “hectic” schedules. Everyone is so “busy” all the time, including kids. On any given day, I am sure to have a conversation with someone who says, “Oh, I’ve been so busy” when I ask, “How have you been?”
It seems like the majority of families have accepted chaos and confusion as the norm. And despite how much we complain about packed schedules and being “busy,” nothing will really change unless we do. Because, think about it: who is creating the busy schedule or making life hectic? It might not be easy to admit, but oftentimes much of the chaos is self-imposed.
As a person and a parent, you have a choice in how busy you become. You have control over how many things fill your schedule and infringe on family time. If you find yourself busy most of the time, engrossed in activities that undermine family wellness, it may be time to overhaul your personal and family schedule.
Here are a few tips for creating a schedule that fosters family wellness:
- Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan the week ahead.
- Keep a master family calendar somewhere visible, like the refrigerator, and update it weekly.
- Create a regular weekly schedule for regular tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
- Save time by performing certain tasks in advance such as ironing clothes, packing lunches and snacks, and prepping meals.
Investing time to create a schedule, and committing to planning ahead, can have a huge positive impact to lower stress during the week.
Simplifying your schedule may take some work, but over time you can get to a place where your days are filled with activities that bring fulfillment, relaxation and connection, rather than stress.
Making one change at a time can help you to develop a schedule that brings your family closer together. In addition to changing your schedule, consider boosting your family wellness by adding these routines to simplify family life.
3. Designate a family fun night.
Designate one night a week as “family night” and plan to do an activity together. One idea is to play a board game as a family. Board games can teach children life skills and will provide opportunities for problem solving, learning how to deal appropriately with losing (and winning), relieving stress, and building creative thinking.
Other ideas include camping in the back yard, having a family talent show, celebrating family achievements with an awards ceremony, working on puzzles, or stargazing. The possibilities are endless!
4. Hold regular family meetings.
Communication is an essential ingredient for family wellness. And that communication needs to involve all members of the household. Although parents ultimately have the final say in major decisions, children should be involved in decision-making on a regular basis where appropriate. Children like to feel that they have a voice in the family’s affairs. They enjoy giving their input, and should be encouraged to do so regularly. Even younger children can be involved.
During family meetings, encourage children to share their thoughts on decisions around regular routines like meals, chores, or family outings. They can also contribute when larger decisions are being made such as family vacations and even how to handle some of the family’s finances.
Give your children age-appropriate ways to contribute that allow them to feel empowered and ultimately, more invested in the home. Holding regular family meetings opens up doors for everyone in the family to feel they their contribution counts.
5. Reduce toxins at home.
Your home is your castle. But it could also be making your family sick rather than supporting your goals for family wellness. Consider your home environment as you look for ways to improve family wellness.
Reducing exposure to toxins can start with what we eat on a regular basis. But in addition to the food we eat, the products we use can be a source of toxicity, too So, it’s important to evaluate what items we are bringing into our homes. Let’s face it, many of the products you purchase regularly because either that’s what your family or friends use, or that just “what I’ve always bought.” You may have never given these products much thought as you pluck them off the shelves at Walmart on auto-pilot and toss them into your shopping cart.
But toxins may be closer than you think. Between the billions of pounds of pesticides used in the United States every year and the chemicals in cleaning supplies, paints, beauty products and other substances, toxins are all around us.
And over time, these toxins can build up in our homes and our bodies causing detrimental health effects on everyone in the family.
While it would be impossible to eliminate all toxins from our homes, it is possible to lower the toxin load to improve family wellness. You want to develop a plan that allows you to decrease the amount of toxins you bring into your home or put into the bodies of your family members, and increase the amount of toxins you eliminate.
Here are a few ways to start reducing toxins at home:
- Switch to natural cleaning products.
- Change or clean furnace and A/C filters regularly.
- Keep your home well-ventilated.
- Leave shoes at the door.
Remember, everything that your family members come in contact with – whether through inhalation or skin contact – is likely to get into the body. And many of these substances can remain in our systems for years despite how diligently our liver, gut, skin, lungs, and kidneys work to filter them out. So, lower the risk of a toxic household and improve your family’s wellness by reducing exposure to indoor toxins.
6. Develop healthy sleep habits for all family members.
Vitamin “S” or Sleep is critical for family wellness. Sleep is just as important to your family’s wellness routine as eating healthy and getting adequate amounts of physical activity. Yet 25 percent of adults in the United States report not getting enough sleep at least 15 out of every 30 days period that’s having poor sleep 50% of the time.
But adequate sleep is a must for the entire family. Adequate sleep can support positive family wellness outcomes like fighting off infection, enhancing school performance, supporting the metabolism, preventing diabetes, and keeping us focused to work safely.
As you work to improve family wellness and build healthy routines, don’t overlook sleep. Cultivate an atmosphere that promotes healthy sleep habits for everyone in the home.
7. Organize your home to lower stress.
A disorganized home can cause much unnecessary stress that can undermine your family wellness. So, in addition to organizing your schedule as mentioned before, it’s also important to organize your physical home environment. Are bills and junk mail creating a mountain on your kitchen countertops? Do you have closets that can barely close, or laundry that has been sitting in piles for a week?
Disorganized, cluttered spaces can cause a feeling of anxiety, overwhelm, and lack of focus. All of these can take a toll on the overall atmosphere at home and leave you less than successful in working towards family wellness. Getting organized and clearing physical space within your home can create more mental space to focus on what’s important for the family.
Key areas to focus on might include bedrooms, living spaces, the pantry and cupboards, closets, laundry room and even your family vehicles. Take it one area at a time until you have an organized, clutter-free home that your family can look forward to spending time in and supports your family’s health and wellness.
8. Volunteer for a cause together.
Helping other individuals, families or animals – or working for a special cause – is a great way to spend family time. Search out opportunities to help out in your local community and volunteer as a family.
This could be helping with projects at schools, cleaning up streets or parks, or reading to elders in assisted living facilities. The ways that you and your family can help others is endless.
Volunteering helps your family to bond over helping others, and also helps all family members to feel a sense of purpose and belonging to your community. For kids, this can also lead to feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment.
When your family gathers for a cause, it promotes your family’s emotional and spiritual wellness. Volunteering as a family can also impart healthy values to your kids such as kindness, gratitude, and selflessness.
9. Preserve family memories.
There are many ways to preserve your family’s memories. One great tool is photo albums that capture your family’s special moments. Having a way to preserve your family’s special occasions or milestones can aid your family wellness as family members gather to look at albums, go through scrapbooks, reflect on memories and share stories.
If you choose to create family photo albums, getting started or maintaining photo albums can be a challenge. One tip to make this process easier is having a way to store and organize all of the photos from the family’s various devices. Using a tool like Lightroom can save you a lot of headache as you sort through photos.
Nowadays, it’s common to see many families keeping digital albums, but also having physical photo albums and scrapbooks are a great way to preserve your family’s memories and foster emotional wellness in the family.
Other ways to preserve family memories
Get creative as you develop a plan to preserve your family’s memories. Family photo albums are just one tool that can be used. Here are a few other ways to preserve your family’s memories to improve family wellness:
- Purchase greeting card boxes.
- Create scrapbooks for significant events.
- Use portfolio books to keep drawings safe and secure.
- Invest in photo books.
- Buy a memory box or two.
Choose the right method for you and your family. Working on this together as a family is a wonderful way to increase bonding, preserve your family history, and create a sense of togetherness for everyone in the family.
10. Get active as a family.
Everyone knows that exercise is a good habit for a healthy lifestyle. And it’s a great way to meet your individual health goals and improve family wellness. But does your family have an activity plan that includes everyone? Creating a fitness plan for the whole family is another key to help improve family wellness.
When everyone in the family is involved in exercises and activities together, not only are you improving your family’s physical wellness but you’re improving many other areas of family wellness, too! Being active – and doing so as a family – can do wonders to improve mood, increase energy, help everyone to sleep better, and it is fun!
Get outside together.
After a long day at work or school, the first thing your family may want to do when they get home is crash on the couch and snuggle in for hours of screen time. You may be so relieved to have some down time on the weekends that going outdoors is the furthest thing from your mind. But being outside can do wonders for bringing your family closer and managing day-to-day stress.
Whether it’s a regular evening walk in the neighborhood, bike-riding, gardening, or going out to parks, going outdoors as a family is a great way to get away from the daily grind, have fun, and reconnect as a family.
For the warmer times of year, here are a few ideas for outdoor activities:
- Playing catch
- Play Catch
- Walk the Dog
When it’s colder, try these physical activities for families:
- Ice skating
- Touring museums
- Indoor walks (like at the mall)
- Swimming in indoor or heated pool
Another way to be more active as a family is to join a family health and wellness center. Most of these offer year-round activities for all members of the family. Regardless of the time of year, there are many activities your family can do together to stay active and moving.
Being physically active will improve health, keep everyone in shape, and is a great routine to add to your family’s wellness plan.
11. Visit relatives.
We now have technology that enables us to connect with people whenever, wherever. From family members that live around the corner to those that live around the globe, we can see our relatives in real time with a simple connection over the internet.
But virtual video calls are not the same as an in-person connection. Making the effort to visit relatives in other towns, states, or countries will help your family to maintain healthy relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and distant relatives.
Spending time with family and visiting loved ones has great benefits for all family members including boosting emotional wellness and happiness. A few more benefits of visiting relatives include:
- Gives all family members a sense of belonging.
- Reinforces family traditions.
- Educates family members on the family’s heritage.
- Brings back positive memories.
- Reminds everyone that they are loved by more than just the immediate family.
- Keeps everyone emotionally engaged with the family.
- Creates new, lasting memories to be treasured by all.
There is only so much that can be shared by retelling stories or looking through albums. Giving family members the opportunity to meet and bond in person with extended family is an invaluable way for family members – especially children – to know where they “came from.”
In-between visits, there are other ways to stay connected. Consider sending cards, emails, photos, letters, and calling those who you love and encourage the whole family to be part of that process. When these routines and traditions are established early, they can become a natural part of your family wellness plan, and may affect how children interact with family members (including their own children) later in life.
12. Drink more water.
The human body is made up of roughly 60 – 70% water, and nearly all of our body’s functions need water to work properly. Incredible, isn’t it? And you may have heard the common recommendation that we should all be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (the 8X8 rule). But, in our coaching programs, you’ll hear us recommend to drink half of your body weight in water per day. This ensures that each person’s water intake is individualized to their own needs. And there are plenty reasons to drink water, but here are some 5 reasons water can help improve family wellness.
5 Reasons to Drink More Water
Water helps to detoxify the body. We pick up toxins from our environment, air, and even our food every day. Drinking water can help flush toxins and waste from the body through sweat, urination, and defecation (pooping).
Water helps maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. Water can be a tool in maintaining a healthy weight. It fills you up before or in-between meals, helping to curb appetite naturally and raises your metabolism. And replacing sugary beverages with water is a great decision since water has zero calories!
Drinking water can help to prevent or alleviate headaches. Dehydration could be at the core of headaches and migraines in some people. And drinking more water can be a way to relieve or prevent headaches.
Water assists with digestion. Dealing with digestive problems like constipation is no fun. Inadequate amounts of water could be the problem as the bowel needs water to do its job! Drinking more water can help keep things moving along.
Water fights fatigue and boosts productivity. Dehydration could be the culprit behind low energy, poor concentration and memory problems. And dehydration can undermine the energy and productivity of your family members whether that’s at school, work, or sports. Although drinking more water may mean more trips to the bathroom, these brief breaks may actually help you to remain more focused and alert, and encourage you to move more throughout the day.
Drinking more water is a great way to improve your family’s physical and mental wellness. And it’s low cost.
Many beverages are marketed as “healthy” or “fortified.” And while it’s tempting to believe that juice is a healthier alternative to soda, keep in mind that most juices contain high levels of sugar which can undermine your family’s wellness goals.
Substituting sodas, juices, or energy drinks for water is a great way to improve family wellness. If you or your family find water “boring,” squeeze a few drops of lemon and add some mint leaves to your glass. It’s a drink that even kids will love.
Summary: How to Improve Family Wellness
The key to improving family wellness is taking it one step at a time. Use these 12 tips for family wellness to make simple changes. Each one will help you to create new, sustainable wellness habits in your home that can become part of everyone’s daily routine for life.
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.