The biggest complaint I hear from clients looking to get their families healthy is that it takes a lot of TIME! Between work, studying, sports and after-school activities, I know first-hand that family schedules can be HECTIC!!! The more women I speak to, the more it’s clear to me that HEALTHY does not seem EASY! It’s no wonder busy moms often feel defeated when trying to find a healthy balance in their homes and give up!
The good news is, it’s not ALL or NOTHING!! We all know that our kids should be eating AT LEAST 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day, limiting their snacks and getting upwards of ONE HOUR of EXERCISE each day, too! But it’s overwhelming for moms to think of all that needs to be added to each day to make these things possible! Since “every little bit” in the areas of nutrition and movement helps us each become healthier, busy moms should understand that it’s not a race to earn the seemingly elusive Gold Star in all areas of their Family’s Health… it’s a JOURNEY that takes time, patience and perseverance!!
To help with the process, here are some simple and realistic steps you can take RIGHT NOW to make small changes that can add up QUICKLY in helping to improve the overall health of your family!!
- Exercise WITH and AROUND Your Kids!
Make a schedule to figure out which days each family member is getting in their exercise (remember to consider that some days of the week your children have gym class!) and where there are deficits for YOU, try to make your exercise activities overlap with their activities. E.g.-If your son has soccer practice, YOU can go for a run or walk around the field instead of watching and waiting during practice. Or if your daughter has gymnastics, go for a walk outside of the building or bring some free weights and do some light weight training in the viewing room. This might “feel” silly at first, but as you start to do it, just watch how many other parents will be inspired to join in! When you overlap exercise with activities, you will see just how easy it is to find “time” for YOU to exercise!
Once you see the schedule, you’ll probably find days where you see no exercise for either you or the kids. On those days, make time to EXERCISE TOGETHER! If you like to run, but your kids are little, get a jogging stroller and encourage them to hop out and run on their own for short intervals! If they are older, fool around with one of those couch to 5k apps and learn to run long distances together! Grab some racquets and hit balls at a local tennis court, kick around a soccer ball, jump rope, play a friendly game of HORSE with the basketball, play tag, ride bikes, play on scooters, play hopscotch and more! The list can go on and on, but you must get out and do it!! You might even decide to cave into the pressure to welcome a new family pet if a family walk with the dog can make it into your schedule some nights!! The bonus to this is that exercise is also acting as FAMILY TIME and your kids will have those memories forever! Time-Saving AND Family-Fun—that’s a Win-Win!
- Cut Out Refined Sugars!
It may seem impossible, but eliminating refined sugars from your home is actually pretty easy to do. JUST DON’T BUY THEM ANYMORE. Yes, it takes guts and you might get some push back, but remember, YOU ARE THE BOSS!! Once you stop buying those sugary treats, your kids will HAVE no other choice but to choose the healthier alternatives.
Once you’ve cut out the c*ap, try to make it fun and more engaging for your kids to eat more whole grain foods and fruits in place of the processed sugars! Cut healthy foods into fun shapes, keep fruits readily available, have a certain section of the fridge set with healthy choices, get convenient pouches they can grab themselves or keep a nice big bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter and available for them WHENEVER they feel like a snack—give them cart blanche with the fruit bowl!
- Prep Healthy Food Ahead!
I know, I know, you’re super busy—so who really has time to food prep?! I get it, but food prepping can actually SAVE you time in the long run! We all have SOME down time in our lives, whether it be on a weekend morning or after kids go to bed, before they wake up or when they just seem to be “quiet” for a short while. Take advantage of these times and have healthy food on hand and READY to go so you can quickly chop veggies, cook up quiche, prepare soups and make simple 30-minute healthy meals that your family will love! Frozen healthy foods can be a LIFE SAVER in this area! And when your meals are prepped, you can use them right away, or keep a stock pile in the freezer for times when the week just won’t allow for any meal prep at all! And don’t worry about the mess…it will be there when you get to it! I’d rather a mess in my sink, than unhealthy foods in my kids’ bodies…. wouldn’t you??
Believe me when I tell you that there is no greater feeling than KNOWING you have a healthy meal at your fingertips when little Bobby forgets his homework at school and you have 10 minutes to get it before carting him off to Karate and you won’t be back home til after 7pm only to have to tackle homework, get in baths and be set for the bedtime routine. Remember, dinner-time should NOT take place at a drive-thru. With healthy meals on hand, you can just GRAB AND GO and your kids can eat HEALTHY food prepared from home on the road. Now THAT’S fast food!
For some #easyhealthyyummy family- friendly meal ideas, check out these awesome recipes that can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes: https://justbrightideas.com/30-minute-dinners-kid-friendly/
- Drink More Water!
Yeah, yeah. I know that you KNOW we should all be drinking more water!! But are you doing it yourself? And are your kids doing it? The fact of the matter is, kids and teens who regularly drink soft drinks and other sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight. If you’re reading this article, I KNOW you don’t want that for your family, so the first step to creating good health is ridding your house of all those unhealthy drinks. If your kids are still drinking juice, soda, power drinks or chocolate milk, you need to re-assess! Loading up on H20 will benefit EVERYONE in your family by providing more energy and better movement, keeping your bodies growing and functioning properly and flushing out dangerous toxins!!
So that’s great, but HOW do we get our kids to drink more water? Well, it all starts with only having water in the house! Again, YOU ARE THE BOSS!! Once the other stuff is no longer a choice, they WILL drink the water. I promise. Make sure water is on hand and ready for them. Bottles, water-coolers, a purifier on your sink…everywhere they turn, water is there for them! Send kids to school with extra water. Pack it in their backpacks, not just their lunches. Encourage them to have a glass as soon as they wake up and right after they brush their teeth and also to drink a lot BEFORE and during any kind of sports activities. Serve water with breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure YOU are setting an example where water is the number one fluid in your life, too!
- Shop Smart and Stock up on HEALTHY SNACKS!
Oh, the elusive HEALTHY SNACK! I’m sure many of you are thinking: what exactly is a HEALTHY snack? My first bit of advice is to avoid processed foods as much as you can when it comes to snacking. I know it’s hard because when we think of CONVENIENT, we think of a package, but fresh foods, with minimal processing, can also be convenient, too. AND, they are best for our bodies when it comes to health. Think fresh fruit and veggies, hummus, guacamole, nuts, seeds, yogurt and low-fat cheeses. If you keep these things on hand and readily available, it’ll be easy to feed ourselves and our kids healthy foods on-the-go! And if packaged foods are a MUST, try to find plant-based, protein-packed snacks, bars and shakes, that are chock-full of vitamins and minerals and healthy fats instead of those 100 calorie snack packs that are chock-full of nothing but empty calories!
So, if you find your busy schedule getting in the way of your family’s health goals and have been overwhelmed by the idea of creating a healthy lifestyle overhaul in your family in the past, you don’t have to be!! Just start small. Pick just one of these ideas and start to incorporate it in your house NOW. Then, as you feel more confident and in control of the situation, gradually add in the others! Once you get started, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your family adjusts, how much better everyone looks and feels and how much more JOY you share as a family together!
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