Today, families are busier than ever before. How can you possibly ensure that you, your partner, and your kids are doing all you can for your physical and mental health? Here are ways to have healthy family activities that incorporate some fun, too.
Tips for healthy family activities:
1. Plan ahead.
One of the best ways to implement changes for your entire family is to use a household calendar or day planner. Put everyone’s activities on it, including homework and social obligations. Then look for times that you can block out for healthy family activities. Aim for two 30-minute blocks during the week and two 60-minute sessions each weekend. Separately block out weekend time to prep meals for the entire week.
2. Have fun with it.
You don’t want to become a drill sergeant, pushing your family through a strict workout routine. Instead, consider everyone’s ages, interests, and current fitness levels. If your family is more intellectual than athletic, try an escape room. You could turn up the music and throw a dance party in the living room. Or head to the local basketball court. If your teens love to shop, head to their favorite upscale shopping plaza. The goal is to keep moving for 30 minutes to an hour. Bodies don’t care if they’re moving through a traditional workout or a fun activity—the benefits are the same.
Meal prep day should also be fun. This is a great time to chat with your kids while teaching them a handy life skill set. Ask them to help you shop by picking out some fresh fruit or using a calculator to keep a running total of the bill. In the kitchen, ask them to help you create fun snack ideas. For example, something as simple as putting fruit slices on a stick and slathering them in peanut butter can make them more exciting and enjoyable.
3. Get everyone involved.
Family health shouldn’t be one parent’s sole responsibility. Take turns planning healthy family activities. Work as a group to brainstorm healthy fun food ideas, then make a list and shop for the ingredients. Bring everyone into the kitchen during meal prep and assign tasks according to age and interest. The more ownership each person feels over the family’s health, the more likely new routines will stick.
4. Give it time.
Any new behavior takes time to develop into a habit. If your family is used to hanging out in front of the TV or spending free time on individual devices, you might get some pushback. Don’t try to implement radical changes all at once. Instead, make one small change at a time, and work to get buy-in from everyone. For example, if your family loves watching sports, you might casually suggest throwing around a football in the backyard. Then use the afterglow to suggest doing something similar again next weekend. As everyone gets used to healthier family time, start talking about blocking out time to do it regularly.