Plan a family wellness challenge to create a healthier lifestyle for your whole family. Use this guide and ideas to keep everyone in your home healthy and happy for life.
Your family’s health is one of your most valuable assets. With so many chronic illnesses on the rise, it’s critical to create a healthy lifestyle plan for the whole family. The cliché “families that play together, say together” is true. But families that play together also stay healthier, too. When families make good health and fun times a priority, these activities not only keep us healthy but strengthen our bonds as well.
Eating healthy and staying active are goals that many parents will set but putting these ideas into action isn’t always easy. The demands of everyday family life can often result in your goals going to the back burner. But what if you could use your busy family life to your advantage to include healthy activities that everyone can do together? When you plan a family wellness challenge, you can make your healthy lifestyle goals a reality. Use the tips below to create a healthy lifestyle for your family to keep everyone in your home healthy and happy for life.
Why You Should Plan a Family Wellness Challenge
I’ve already mentioned one reason to do a wellness challenge with your family, but there are many other ways that a wellness challenge can benefit your family. When you work on a common goal – or support each other towards your independent goals – you’re building bonds, increasing accountability, making a healthy lifestyle more fun, and staying motivated to reach your goals. Families that take wellness challenges together might want to address a household problem such as reducing screen time, developing healthier eating habits, being more active, or other areas of health. Or you may have your own independent goal that you’d like to work on. Either way, engaging in a wellness challenge helps to boost family connection and commitment to better health. Having an atmosphere of wellness sends that message to everyone in the home that “our health matters.”
How to Plan a Successful Wellness Challenge for Your Family
While the challenge will look different for every family, there are some key features that you’ll want to consider that can help anyone to have a successful wellness challenge.
The first step is to narrow down what goal you’re aiming for. Are you aiming to get your family into a more active lifestyle, cut out snacking on high-sugar items, improve sleep? These are just a few ideas. When you have your challenge topic set, come up with a few behaviors that can help you to reach the goal of the challenge. For example, write a list of action steps that can be taken to support that health habit in the home. You want to generate as many ideas as possible, so just write down everything that comes to mind without filtering it. You might do this in a meeting with all family members where everyone gets to contribute their ideas. Be sure that everyone has a chance to participate and feels included. And if everyone in the family will participate, be sure that the activities are achievable and appropriate for all.
Determine the length of your challenge and be sure your challenge has a clear beginning and ending date; otherwise, it’s not a challenge!
Finalize your list of challenge ideas and post it visibly for everyone to see. If you’re doing your challenge over the course of a week or month, make it fun and draw a calendar on colorful poster paper where you can track the completion of the challenge activities on a daily or weekly basis.
Be sure to track progress. Will you have a daily check-in or will each participant log their own progress? You can do this on your calendar or create a separate tracker for this. Remember this is a family challenge, not a competition, so be sure everyone is set up for success and gets positive reinforcement for their actions towards the challenge goal.
Ideas to Help You Create a Family Wellness Challenge
Use these ideas to put together your family wellness challenge.
Ideas for a Movement or Activity Challenge
Becoming more active is part of a healthy lifestyle. And creating a challenge that helps increase movement is a great start. Rather than focus on “exercise,” the aim of a challenge like this is to focus on becoming moe active. It also makes meeting fitness goals more fun when the whole family is involved. Here are some ideas for activities you can add to a family fitness challenge.
- Increase daily steps
- Stand more during the day
- Do yard work together
- Play tag
- Go for a bike ride
- Visit a local park
- Take a walk around your neighborhood
- Play a game of tag
- Play hopscotch
- Go jogging
- Dance to lively music
- Practice a sport together
- Have a water balloon fight
- Go kayaking
- Take a fitness class together like yoga or dance.
- Visit a museum or explore a nearby city
- Throw a frisbee
- Set a timer to stand up during the day
- Get up and walk during phone calls
- Take a stretch break
- Do cardio exercises
- Use hand weights while reading emails
- Play musical chairs
Ideas for a Healthy Eating Challenge
Is your family more interested in working to eat healthier? A healthy eating challenge might be the way to go! Perhaps you want to reduce sugary foods, cut out fast food, or add more vegetables into your diet. Or you might want to start cooking more at home. Use the ideas below to start planning your family’s healthy eating challenge.
- Try veggies and hummus
- Eat one vegetable with each meal
- Eat a veggie-packed dinner
- Add some fruit to your breakfast
- Snack on a handful of nuts
- Eat a salad for lunch
- Make a grocery list before heading to the store
- Slow down while eating
- Search for new healthy recipes
- Cut down on sugar in your coffee or tea
- Have sweet potato instead of white potato
- Try a new whole grain
- Pack lunch for the day (even if you work from home)
- Fill a water bottle every morning
- Drink more water
- Swap one soda today for an unsweetened drink
- Cook a large batch of a healthy vegetable dish
- Experiment with meal prep
- Put your fork down between bites
- Eat from a smaller plate
- Try oatmeal instead of cereal for breakfast
- Swap a processed meat for a lean protein
- Try a plant-based milk (e.g., coconut, oat, almond)
- Make a healthy meal plan as a family
Ideas for Other Wellness Challenges
So far we’ve covered ideas for activity and healthy eating, which are all great topics for improving your family’s physical wellness. But wellness encompasses so much more including our mental/emotional, social, spiritual, financial, and environmental wellness. So the sky is the limit with creating your family wellness challenge and you might want to focus on another area that is more relevant to you and your family right now. Your challenge might involve managing stress, improving sleep, tackling family finances, reducing screen time, or something else. Or you might choose to work on a project together such as decluttering your home, building something together, or making handmade holiday gifts. Each of these activities can strengthen an area of wellness. Here are a few more ideas to create a meaningful family wellness challenge:
- Get to bed earlier
- Start a meditation practice
- Try yoga
- Take a technology time-out every day
- Start a relaxing hobby
- Declutter your home
- Learn a new skill
- Work on your hobby
- Set boundaries on your time
- Massage tight neck and shoulders
Challenges are a fun way to motivate your family to create a healthier lifestyle by focusing on one area at a time. Once you complete a challenge and get your first “win,” let this be the driver to continue with your new habits and fuel you to tackle more areas of your health and wellbeing. As you create each challenge, be sure you follow the steps above to make the challenge a success. Whenever you are repeating a previous challenge, fine-tune your plan and consider increasing the goal. For instance, if your challenge was to be active 10 minutes a day, increase that to 15 or 20 minutes a day. And continually look for new tools and resources to help you succeed. Every new healthy habit is a step towards better health for your 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.