Health and Happiness: Practical Ways to Improve Your Family’s Wellbeing

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When you become a parent, your child’s health and happiness becomes your number one priority. It’s our life’s mission to keep them safe, and ensure they have the best start so they’re able to go off into the world and become productive members of society. However, raising kids is never easy, we all make mistakes and with often conflicting information it can be difficult to put advice into practice. This post aims to give you tips that are achievable in the real world, and will all contribute to a healthier family. Read on to find out more!source

Eat together as a family

One of the most beneficial things you can do for your family’s health is to eat together most nights a week. There are lots of reasons for this, the first being that home cooked food tends to be healthier than anything you can order in or convenience food. You can sneak in extra vegetables, you can limit salt and sugar and you know exactly what’s gone into it. When your children see you filling up on delicious, healthy meals they’re likely to mirror your habits in time, and dinner time is a great chance to set an example to them. Another reason that eating together is good for your family is that it’s a chance to spend quality time together. When you and your partner are off at work all day, your youngest is in nursery and older kids are at school it means you’re all going your separate ways for most of the day. Eating dinner together is a chance to catch up, to keep bonds strong. It’s so beneficial that studies have shown that families that eat together regularly tend to have less instances of teenage pregnancies and substance abuse. It’s all down to the fact that this time together means you’re likely to be closer and have a better relationship with your kids. This can mean there’s more of a chance they’ll open up and speak to you about any issues instead of giving straight into peer pressure. We all know that kids and teens can be fussy with food, so it’s worth coming up with a repertoire of meals that you all like. Big, one pot meals like stews, bolognese and chilli are family favourites and can save you on the washing up! Utilise your slow cooker, this can save you both time and money as you can use cheaper cuts of meat which become tender when cooked low and slow. Add some potatoes, veggies and meat to the pot in the morning, and by the evening you have a tasty and healthy home cooked meal that you’ve not had to slave over.

Find ways you can all get active

This day in age, it can be more difficult to encourage kids to be active. Before, pure boredom would have meant they’d be up playing in the garden or out on their bikes, skateboards or roller skates and burning calories. However, these days, kids have access to the world at their fingertips and getting them away from their screens can be a struggle. The best thing you can do is find exercise that’s genuinely fun. If your kids are younger, take them to a trampoline park or take them to events that have bouncy castles- this kind of activity can be incredibly tiring but lots of fun! Parks, games such as frisbee and sports you can play as a family can also be a fun way to get you all active. Even days out where you’re doing a lot of walking counts. You could go on family bike rides or hikes with your dog, have water fights in the summer, make up fun games and combine family bonding time and activity into one. If kids see exercise as boring or a slog they’re not going to want to do it. So find ideas that are genuinely enjoyable and get them up and moving.

Utilize health monitoring technology

There are so many health tracking apps and types of technology these days. Things like fitness trackers are good, they can keep you motivated and give an accurate insight as to just how much you’re doing. Best of all, there are trackers that are designed specifically for kids. As you can all add each other and see your activity, a bit of healthy competition can push you all to do even more. Using gadgets like smart scales that can sync your weight to an app is another way you can keep track of the health of your family. Your aim should be to ensure you’re all within your correct BMI range, and if you’re not, take steps to get there in a healthy way. While health checkups at the doctor are always going to be essential for your young family, there’s plenty you can do at home in between visits to make sure you’re all on track.

Work on a good sleep routine

As parents you’ll be well aware of how tricky bedtime can be when you have kids and teens. We know the importance of a good night’s sleep and how crucial it is for their growing bodies, but getting them to sleep when they should can be an ongoing issue. However, it’s something that you’ll need to continue working on and being firm with. Come up with a regime that works for you as a family, with young children this can involve a bath and story routine before bed. With teens, it can involve cutting off the wifi an hour before bed and encouraging reading instead. Research has well established that looking at screens prior to going to bed can affect the body’s ability to wind down, this is because light is a powerful ‘wake up’ cue to the brain. The light emitted from screens in particular can prevent melatonin (the sleep hormone) from being released properly. Set a time each day to go to bed and stick to it, letting them stay up for the occasional extra half hour means they’ll always try their luck and ask you! If they know it’s simply not an option and bedtime means bedtime, they should eventually get into the habit of going to bed when they’re asked.

Focus on relaxation

It’s easy to think that children don’t have a care in the world, and so relaxation exercises are pointless. But it’s simply not true, the world can actually be very stressful and scary for kids and teens. From pressures at school to friends and budding relationships, undergoing physical changes and much more it can leave them feeling stressed and anxious. Think about it, as adults we’ve settled into a routine, but when you’re young you’re forever learning new things, going to new groups, trying new hobbies, meeting new people and generally undergoing change all the time. As adults we know when we’re getting stressed and have coping techniques to remedy this, but children and teens won’t be aware of this. Teach them relaxation techniques, from breathing and meditation to taking a relaxing bath. Journalling can be useful as well as exercise, and also letting them know they can speak to you and open up about anything bothering them. Recognise the signs of stress, it could be nail biting, going quiet or being over emotional. Help them to understand these signs in themselves and show them ways to deal with these feelings of stress or anxiety.

Take some training or a qualification

Would you know what to do in a medical emergency if one of your family members was hurt, collapsed or was suffering with a serious illness? We’re lucky to live in a part of the world where the emergency services and healthcare is excellent, but in some scenarios it’s worth knowing how to respond instantly until they arrive. In the case of choking or extreme bleeding for example, every second counts. Sign up for a first aid course, these are courses you can take which specify in first aid for children. There are also courses aimed at children and young people which they can undertake themselves, and can give you peace of mind knowing they have some basic knowledge in this area. If you wanted to go a step further you could even study for a formal qualification. Things like online fnp programs can be studied in a flexible way- part time and from home so are ideal for parents. Many people take online courses as a way to improve of change career, but it could be something you do just because you’re interested in it- and because it benefits your family. Studying can also be good for your own mental health, as parents are own goals are often overlooked and we can feel like we’re stagnating. Study helps to build our skills and keep us sharp.

What kind of things do you do to ensure your family is kept happy and healthy?

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