8 Habits of Healthy Families

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Here’s a disclaimer: Healthy Families are NOT Perfect Families. They may grab a pizza for dinner or let their kids watch too much TV one day. Their kids throw temper tantrums and insist they must wear the same shirt 3 days in a row. And guess what? It’s OK! The biggest thing is that we’re trying. I was inspired to write this post after this article on extraordinarily healthy families. I thought some of the tips were really great, and wanted to add some of my own advice and experiences to it.

Some of these tips you may already do and there might be some new ideas for your family to try. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to make all these a habit with your family in one day or even one week. Remember: it’s our small, daily efforts that add up to big results!

1.Get Outside And Play

With the weather cooling down,  the temperature is perfect for afternoon and early evening playtime. Cold winter months means lots of time indoors, so take advantage of the nice weather and play outside as much as possible!

“Ideally that means, for children, some kind of physical activity every day, and for adults, a minimum of four days a week,” clinical psychologist Steve Orma says

Kick a soccer ball in the grass, play catch, draw silly pictures with chalk, visit the park, or ride bikes and scooters. Use this time to develop healthy habits, but also to bond as a family.

2. Have a NO PHONE zone

With younger kids, this can mean a NO SCREEN TIME zone. I typically power off my devices for an hour or two each day so I can focus on my children and spend quality time with them. When my phone is powered off I’m not tempted to sneak a peek at my messages. For some families, the no phone zone is during homework time or dinner time. Other families have a drawer or other charging station where phones go at bedtime so no one can use them after a certain time. Do what works best for you family.

3. Make Meal Prep a Family Activity

Why should mom do all the work when it comes to meal prep? Mealtime is a great opportunity to teach children healthy eating habits and cooking skills they’ll use later in life. You can talk to your family about why what you’re eating is healthy and good for your body. If you cook certain things like chicken ahead of time to use throughout the week, have kids help you scoop up the portions of chicken and transfer it into a freezer bag or Tupperware. Most young kids are eager to help in the kitchen, it’s usually the adult who shoos them away.

“Take them to the grocery store and help them learn to read labels. Choose a recipe together and then say, ‘Let’s get your ingredients.’”

For older kids, try teaching them a simple meal to make, doing it once together. Then, the next time you make it, have them do most of it on their own. I know families who have their older children in charge of a dinner each week.

4. Organize Your Schedules Around Good Health

“To keep your family on the track toward healthy living, try getting a calendar and putting it in a place where everyone in the family can see. Then use it: Schedule the night the kids are in charge of making dinner. Add the once-a-month family bike ride to the park or the weekly driveway basketball game.”

Don’t do something once and then never do it again. Writing it on a calendar and part of your normal routine will help make these ideas into healthy habits that are just part of your normal family life.

5. Rethink Snacktime

The easiest way to tackle this is to get the junk out of the house and fill it with healthy options (for tips, see my post on cleaning out the junk). Make healthy foods accessible to your family (keep them in a bowl on the counter or on a low shelf in the fridge), and if you haven’t already, make sure each member of your family has their own reusable water bottle.

6. Communicate

I heard a great family tip the other week: another mom shared with me that the first Sunday of each month is a time when the parents have a one on one council with each child. They keep it informal and just ask about how things are going and if the child has any problems or concerns they want to talk about. I love this idea and can see how it would be especially beneficial if you have school aged children!

“Mental health, sleep, experiences at school and how they’re interacting with others are so closely linked, and if something is bothering or troubling a child, it will affect their overall well-being.”

Of course dinnertime, rides to school, and when your playing outside together are all other great times to talk openly as a family. Make communicating a fun part of your day where all members of your family take turns talking and listening to others. 

7. Wind Down Together

Try to establish a strong bedtime routine and make it a family affair (even if your kids go to bed earlier than you). Get things ready for the next day such as lunches, homework and outfits. Read books together, tell each other what you were thankful for that day, and start to relax and unwind. Experts suggest to give yourself at least 1 hour to unwind before bed…so if you want your kids in bed by 8, start your routine at 7.

I know a mom who tells her kids she will read books to them until 8pm. So that means if they can get in PJs with brushed teeth and go potty quickly, they have more time to read. But some nights they drag their feet and complain and only have 10 minutes to read. I thought this was a clever idea.

8. Keep Exercise Fun

Staying healthy and active is a life-long habit. What is your attitude when it comes to working out? Do your kids hear you grumbling and complaining? You are their example for healthy living…a lot of times your attitude becomes their attitude. Don’t be afraid to try new activities or to ask your children what they would like to do.

We went paddle boarding on our recent family vacation for the first time with our little buddies. They sat really good and just chilled while we were on the lake. It was fun, relaxing, and a workout all at the same time!  For more tips on keeping exercise fun, see my post on incorporating kids into your fitness routine.

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DIY Olympic Backyard Games

backyard olympics

We’re in the middle of the 2016 Summer Olympics and I thought it might be fun to host our own backyard Olympics. This would make a fun activity for your next family night or just a fun way to end the summer before kids go back to school.  Playing family games like this is a great way to show children that being outside and being active is FUN rather than a chore to do. These games would also be a great way to teach kids about good sportsmanship and supporting their siblings and family members. The list of ideas was compiled from Pinterest and you can search there for even more ideas. I picked ones that were budget friendly and easy to set up (i.e. I didn’t have to buy new equipment to make it happen). If you have small kids, think about pairing a small child with an older one or a parent to work as a team.

Ideas for Olympic Game stations around the yard:

  • volleyball, badminton, croquet, kickball, baseball
  • 3 legged race
  • obstacle course (use objects to climb over, jump over, run around, balance on, etc..)
  • water balloon toss with blankets/towels

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Other ideas for your family Olympics

If you really want to go all out, check out these printable event cards, banners, medals, and more!

FREE Olympic Printables

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Olympic Rings fruit platter (You could use veggies too!)

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Teach kids about Brazil, this year’s host of the Olympic Games!

Tasty Tuesday: Let’s Get Saucy!

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Some people have the misconception that eating clean automatically means giving up any sauces you enjoy putting on your favorite foods. It’s true that typical sauces are full of added sugars, salts, and can really add calories to your meal if you’re not careful. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find healthy alternatives to your favorite dips or sauces to use occasionally.

With summer picnics and BBQs in full swing (not to mention a big holiday weekend coming up) impress your party guests with these 21 Day Fix Approved sauces & dips perfect for your next summer get together.

I shared the BBQ sauce recipe in last week’s post about healthy lunch ideas. But in case you missed it, here it is again:

grilling-8-365Clean Eating BBQ Sauce

  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs molasses
  • 1 Tbs raw sugar
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins has all clean ingredients and you can get it pretty much anywhere)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • a pinch of salt
  • black pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat. Stir until combined and heated through.

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Healthy Ranch Dressing/Dip

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp parsley

combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Allow time to chill before serving.

frui dip big3 Ingredient Creamy Fruit Dip

  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 3 tbs nut butter

Combine all ingredients and chill before serving

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Healthy KID APPROVED lunch ideas

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Lunchtime can be a challenge with kids during the summertime (or anytime for that matter!) It can be so tempting to reach for those premade lunch items at the grocery store like chicken nuggets or corn-dogs. Whether you’re on the go or just wanting to get out of the “what’s for lunch” rut, these fast and easy recipe ideas are a fun way to involve your kids in the cooking process and to help teach them healthy cooking habits.

These recipe ideas are great if you have kids who love to help cook or just love choices–remember, kids are more likely to try new things and eat their meals if they feel ownership during the process–i.e. either helped cook or helped choose toppings/ingredients.3562117084_f72ca0506c_b

  1. Homemade quesadillas in a whole wheat wrap–take whole wheal tortilla and add cheese, black beans, corn to one side. Fold in half and microwave starting at about 30 seconds. Cut with a pizza cutter into triangles or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. Let kids dip in salsa or guacamole if desired.

 

2. Almond butter and banana rolled in whole wheat wrap: Spread your nut butter over 15093563857_af7ef6db7e_ctortilla, place banana in the middle and roll up. Fun extras: drizzle with honey, add nuts, raisins, craisins, or sunflower seeds *Side note* I have a friend who tells her kids this is a “monkey lunch” and they love that!

3.Turkey roll ups: turkey, cheese, and pickles rolled up and pinned with a toothpick or wrapped in a large lettuce leaf.

4.Homemade lunchable: whole wheat crackers, cheese slices, and turkey

5. Tuna Pita Sandwich: Whole wheat pita stuffed with tuna fish and any extras like: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, or sprouts3704624235_46a01b6d01_b

6. 2795689618_3f0f66356b_oMini pizzas made on whole wheat English muffins: If you’re using store bought sauce, pay attention to added sugars or salt. Spread sauce on English muffin, top with desired veggies or meats, sprinkle with cheese. Bake on foil lined sheet until cheese melts. You can also make these ahead of time and freeze before baking for a future use.

 

7. Grilled cheese sticks: Just a regular grilled cheese cut into strips. For some reason, kids love eating them this way!

8. BBQ Chicken sandwiches made with 21 Day Fix BBQ Sauce:

 

  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs molasses
  • 1 Tbs raw sugar
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins has all clean ingredients and you can get it pretty much anywhere)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • a pinch of salt
  • black pepper, to taste

Heat all ingredients together in a small pot over medium heat and bring to a bubble. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary. Let bubble, giving it a stir every minute or two, for about five minutes. That’s it!

For sandwiches: mix well with shredded chicken and serve on whole wheat bread/bun.  This is a recipe that you can make ahead of time, split chicken mixed with BBQ sauce into single servings using Ziploc bags, and freeze. Just pull out the night before and place in fridge to thaw for lunch the next the day.

Fun Lunch Sides:

  • cheese sticks
  • hard boiled eggs
  • fresh fruit
  • carrots and celery
  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Popcorn
  • Raisins or Craisins
  • Pretzles

 

 

Staying fit (and sane) this summer!

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Summer is a time to get out, enjoy  the outdoors, and spend time together as a family. It’s also a time when many moms want to pull their hair out because kids are saying “I’m bored!” Too many times to count! I loved this article from schoolfamily.com on ways to incorporate fitness into your summer routine. So many good ideas and ways to stay fit and sane this summer! One tip I loved from a friend is to create a summer bucket list as a family: sit down together and have each member of the family name something they’d like to do over the summer (that’s realistic and within the family budget). Name as many activities as you can thing of! Things like a family bike ride, visiting all the community parks, taking a walk down main street, or naming specific hikes in your area could be things on the list. BE CREATIVE!  Kids are less likely to whine and complain about activities if they have a say in them.  How do you make sure your family stays fit and mom stays sane during the summer? Comment with your suggestions or favorite ideas from the list!

From schoolfamily.com:

Summer is time for rest and relaxation, but it’s also important to make sure your kids get some physical activity every day. Despite the long days and warm weather, parents may find it hard to motivate their children to get moving.

“Many kids and families get off schedule and lose their routine,” says Mary Lou Gavin, a pediatrician, a medical editor for the website KidsHealth, and one of the authors of Fit Kids: A Practical Guide To Raising Healthy and Active Children—From Birth to Teens.

We’ve compiled some common-sense tips and recommendations to help you make sure your child has an active summer.

  1. Create a routine with a regular bedtime and wake-up time, Gavin advises. Kids may be staying up later and sleeping later because it’s summer, but they still need routine.
     Set expectations. Decide in advance what your kids want to accomplish over the summer. Involve them in scheduling. Incorporate fitness, education, and down time.
  2. Get out and do fun, fit activities as a family. Hike, head to the park, and enjoy the pool. Explore state parks, biking trails, and other undiscovered gems.
  3. Plan an active and health-conscious vacation. If you’re driving to a faraway destination, stop along the way and fit in a hike or a tour of a landmark, Gavin suggests.
  4. Assign chores that encourage fitness, such as mowing the lawn (with a push mower), weeding the garden, or mopping the floors.
  5. Offer older children a chance to earn money by washing the car, the patio, or the windows. Teach them to clean without wasting water. “We’re really still talking about playing,” Gavin says. “You can play while you wash the car.”
  6. Limit time spent watching TV, using the computer, and playing video games. Some experts recommend at most two hours a week.
  7. Be a good role model. Parents who are active have an easier time raising active kids because they teach by example.
  8. Emphasize variety. Kids over age 2 need about an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. They need aerobic activity as well as activity that promotes flexibility and builds strength.
  9. Take your child’s interests and personality into account when brainstorming for activities. Some kids like sports but not the pressure of competition. Others love to compete, but they may not be old enough to have the motor skills for a particular sport. “The summer is a great no-pressure time,” Gavin says. Parents can work with their children in the backyard or driveway to improve baseball, soccer, or basketball skills.
  10. Parents sometimes keep their children inside because they’re afraid their kids will get hurt. Choose the right safety equipment, find well-maintained parks, and make sure your child has adequate supervision. Use mosquito repellant and sunscreen, but don’t keep them indoors out of fear, Gavin says. “Physical activity comes naturally to kids,” she says. Parents often inadvertently discourage kids from getting exercise because it isn’t convenient or seems dangerous.
  11. Look for ways to integrate technology into physical activity, advises Melissa Johnson, executive director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. For example, download health information or inspirational words to your child’s iPod or play active video games such Dance Dance Revolution.
  12. Check out neighborhood community centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, and YMCAs for child fitness and sports programs.
  13. Encourage your child to log fitness time at www.presidentschallenge.org. Kids can earn awards for points racked up through fitness.
  14. Make sure your child has time and a safe place for unstructured free play.

“Kids love to move around; it’s innate. The incentive is the movement itself,” Johnson says. “If it doesn’t come naturally, put in measures to limit indoor time and come up with fun, creative ideas.”

How To Workout With Your Kids

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If you have children, no matter their age, finding the time to workout can be a challenge. It seems I just get going and one of my kids wanders in and needs something. Balancing your role as regular-mom and fit-mom may seem impossible, but who says you have to choose between the two roles? Combining them can be done, no matter what the ages are of your children.

First of all, remember this:

children

Instead of getting into a “it’s me vs. them” mindset every time you want to fit in some exercise, remember that this can be a great opportunity to spend some quality time together and teach them about living a healthy lifestyle. The next time you find yourself fighting for a little fitness time, try one of these tips:

Exercising with Infants:  The best option for a lot of moms is to exercise while they’re taking a nap. When my kids were babies, I could exercise and shower before they woke up–and doing both those things always made me feel amazing and improved my attitude!

Use your baby instead of weights or medicine ball! Hold your baby while you do lunges or squats. Lay on your back and lift your baby up and down, working your biceps. Sit and then lean back in a slightly reclined position (where your abs are engaged), hold your baby, and twist side to side working both sides of your abs. Lay your baby on the floor and do push-ups above them, making silly faces each time you press down.

Even going for a walk with your baby in the stroller or a jogging stroller is great!

If your baby can sit up, push them lightly in an infant swing in your yard or park. While the swing is in motion do a few reps of squats, lunges, push ups, jumping jacks, high knees, arm circles…there are so many things you can do without equipment and not having to be inside!

For Toddlers and Older: Explain to your children that this time is important to you. Invite them to join you as you do your workout and tell them before you start that if they get bored/tired they may sit down and watch or go play quietly with something else until you’re finished.

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I have a friend who involves her 7 year old as she jogs around the neighborhood. Sometimes the child will run or sometimes she’ll ride her bike alongside the mother. It’s so fun to involve your kids in a healthy and active lifestyle! Children learn from example, and there’s no better example than a healthy parent who enjoys taking care of their body.

For All Ages:

Walk or ride bikes around the neighborhood, to the park, or to school. For babies and younger kids, a bike trailer is a great option and pulling the extra weight is an added workout for mom!

Take your workout outside! Do the same moves in your back yard or at the park while your kids play.

Just a few days ago my kids wanted to play outside but it was time for my workout. SO instead of pushing play on the DVD- we took the workout outside and went for a walk and then did some PiYo Buns.
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It is so nice to follow these programs and then to be able to make up your own routines whenever needed. My workouts are very important! But I also never want my children to hate that I workout… I want to set an example for them and keep it a positive and fun thing!

I used to go to the gym… my children HATED going to the day care. And hated when I would leave them with dad so I could go workout. It wasted 2.5 hours in my day (between workout and travel time) that I could have spent with them! The gym didn’t work for me!!! So nice to be able to workout from home in only 30 minutes our every day (or less). And still live a healthy and fit life and have that extra time with my children!! They are happy when I work out, and often times ask me when I am going to do it.

What are your favorite ways to workout with your kids? I’d love to hear some other ideas!

 

Got Picky Eaters? Try this Egg-stra fun idea!

eggstra

Do you have Picky little eaters?? Here are a few tips that might help:

Make sure to always provide healthy options. The more you give your child things from the cupboard for snacks like crackers, gold fish crackers, fruit snacks, cookies, etc. Those things that are quick… the less your children will want to try new things or eat healthy things.

Provide variety. If you find a vegetable your child likes so you try to offer it every day, they may eat it up and love it, but after a few days or weeks they may get to where they completely stop eating that food entirely.

Provide your child with VERY SMALL amounts of food!! Then after they eat it, you can give them more. As parents we are constantly putting way too much food on our small children’s plates and it is very overwhelming for them.

Be Careful telling your child to eat their food because it is good for them and will help them grow chest hairs, or muscles, etc. When they hear that the food is “healthy” or “good” for them. That tells them…. “then it must be yucky”. In their minds, it cannot be both. For some kids, this can also be the start of strength of wills…they hear you, as the parent, encouraging them to eat the healthy foods so it makes them want to do the opposite–not eat it! Finally, in the past, I’ve said to my son “Don’t you want to eat your carrots? They’ll give you strong eyes!” And he’s said, “No thanks. I don’t want strong eyes.” Kind of painted myself into a corner there didn’t I? For some kids, telling them its healthy and will make them strong is an incentive to eat it, for others it’s a turn off. So just be careful and know your child.

– Make eating FUN!!!! Always sit down at the table or on a picnic blanket WITH your children and eat with them! Don’t talk about the food… talk about them, talk about their day, ask them questions, make meal time fun!! Give them your full attention during meals and eat with them!

This was a fun idea I used with my son who is an extremely picky eater. 12932601_869942933115641_3272844483869228656_nIt was also a good way to make the magic of the Easter eggs last a day or two longer. Again, using small amounts of food, I hid the snacks inside the eggs for him to find throughout the house. He was so excited to see what was inside each egg.

Another fun idea would be to do healthy eating bingo, or a healthy eating challenge with your kids to see if they can make five healthy choices throughout the day (remember, choosing to drink water is a healthy choice too!). Be creative!

– Cut up some fruit and vegetables, have some protein pre-cooked and ready. Then divide it up into snack sized baggies. Put the healthy options into a container in the fridge for snacks. This way you have QUICK options to pull from. Let your child choose their snack from the healthy options. OR pull out 2 options and let them choose. If they feel like they have a bit of control over what to eat, they may eat it better.

Let your children help you make some of their meals!! When they have that sense of pride and accomplishment of making it, they may be more willing to try it!

Hang in there!! Sometimes it is hard to make that transition to get them to eat healthy and is more work for you! BUT it will be worth it! The best way to make sure your kids develop those healthy eating habits is to start them young and lead by example! Yep, they’re looking to mom and dad/ grandma and grandpa to see what they should be eating.

Join our challenge groups for more tips with Clean Eating, Meal planning, and Meal prep for you and your family! Next TOTALLY FREE group starts April 11. Comment below or send me a message on my Facebook page. And everyone’s invited, so feel free to get some friends together and join us.