Healthy habits start at home. You’ve probably heard this a million times, and you passively say “yeah, okay” to yourself as you hand your 3-year-old a cookie he’s been screaming about for the past hour. With a little eye rolling, you think healthy has gone right out the window along with your sexy clothes and staying up after 10 PM. However, you can teach your kids these top 10 healthy habits kids should learn and it just comes down to small changes every day. Today I have Jennifer Landis, a twenty-something healthy living blogger, mother, wife, distance runner, and yogi, to share with us her super simple ways to encourage healthy habits. She writes about mindfulness, parenting, and clean eating on her blog, Mindfulness Mama. Follow her on twitter @JenniferELandis.
Top 10 Healthy Habits Kids Can Learn At Home Through Simple Changes
- Shop Together and Discuss What You’re Buying
It’s not enough to just take your kid shopping and hope you make it out of the store without a meltdown. Instead, talk about what you’re buying — and why. The produce department is full of opportunities to show your child that fresh food is always a good choice.
And when they want to load the cart with junk food? Talk about the ingredients and why it’s a bad choice — and then help them pick something better.
- Always Try New Foods
Make a plan that at each grocery trip, you will buy a new food for the family to try. Explain that it’s okay not to like something, but we always have to try it and give it a chance.
If your kid won’t bite on the first try, don’t push too hard. Just keep offering the food at other meal times.
- Make Healthy Snacks Together
So you cut out the junk food at the grocery store, and now your kid is acting like they are absolutely going to lose it if you don’t give them a cookie. You’ve explained why cookies aren’t a great choice, but this was one healthy habit kids are now down with. Now what?
Now you find a healthier cookie recipe to make with your child that is healthier than what you find at the store, like these chocolate sugar cookies.
- Don’t Skip Breakfast
Skipping breakfast is just one of those things moms tend to do. You’re trying to get everyone up in the morning, dressed and fed, and you’re lucky to even get in a cup of coffee. Who has time to eat?
Make time to eat breakfast every day — even if that means you share something quick, such as yogurt and fruit, with your little. You could even make breakfast the night before and just heat it up in the morning for a quick, healthy choice.
- Give Some Thought to School Lunches
If your kid is in school, you should make sure they are getting a healthy lunch every day. This may mean packing their lunch full of smart choices each day or being in-the-know about what is offered at school.
The biggest thing is you should make sure your child gets to eat lunch every day and isn’t in a situation where they feed the vending machine quarters for junk food.
- Dinner Time Is About Conversation and Connection
Make sure you eat dinner together as a family. Don’t skip it and don’t let life get too busy that you all eat at separate times. While you’re eating together, talk about your day and what’s coming for the week. Really connect with your children.
A good way to do this is by playing the high-low game: everyone must say one highlight of their day and one low (bad) thing about their day and how both things made them feel. This is a super important one of the Top 10 Healthy Habits kids should learn because it will build bonds that will lead to a happier, healthier family life even as they progress into the sometimes reclusive teen years.
- Exercise as a Family
Make opportunities to exercise together. Ride bikes together, go on a walk after dinner, and just get outside. Why not take your kids to the park each week so they can explore and play with other kids? Do your best keep an eye on them, but don’t be afraid to step back a bit and let them play freely.
No matter what the family fitness activity is you choose, just do your best to get moving together and consistently.
- Encourage Brain Games
Speaking of exercise, it’s important for your child to exercise their brain as well. Give them busy boxes that encourage them to use their imagination to create and build new things. Sit down at the table with them or get down on the floor and create something wonderful together. There are so many fun crafts or educational games to explore together. You may be surprised that encouraging learning made the top 10 healthy habits kids should learn but it is one of the secrets to aging well and enjoying the journey.
- Have a Set Schedule
Having a schedule or routine is important to keeping children feeling safe and happy. Having a schedule will also help you plan your days so the important stuff gets done. Make a schedule with your child and discuss why it’s important.
If they are old enough, this may include what time they should wake up, when they should be finished with breakfast and when it’s time to head to school. Younger kids can have a consistent routine that leads into a schedule when they are old enough to tell time and read.
- Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Cut off the televisions, video games and phones an hour before bed. Spend time preparing for the next day and calming down for a night’s rest.
By limiting the blue light from electronics, you and your child will fall asleep easier and sleep better at night.
These top 10 healthy habits kids need to learn are easy to implement at home and will make your entire family feel better. Healthy doesn’t have to mean perfect. Sometimes it just means small, intentional choices that set present and future habits to encourage a healthy lifestyle.