I’m thrilled to have Meghan Meredith guest blog today about integrating health and wellness as a whole family. Sometimes I hear clients say that they will start being healthy when the kids are older or they are out of the house- but really, you should be teaching them how to be healthy NOW at every age. Leave her some love in the comments after your read her insight <3
A healthy approach to how we treat our bodies begins at an early age. The words we speak over our toddler will impact the way he/she views his/her body at age thirteen. The after school snacks we welcome into our pantries will become the snacks your college aged child gravitates towards when it comes to munching while studying. How we spend our free time, either engaging in physical activities such as hiking or biking or sitting on the sofa watching tv shows, will mark our children’s perspective on exercise and movement as they grow older.
Children are shaped by the way their parents engage with and view health and wellness. And it begins when they are babies. As I am sure you are well aware, kiddos watch our every move. They pick up on phrases we say, gestures we make, and how we react to certain situations. This means they are also receptive to how we treat our bodies through our food choices, movement, how we handle stress, and our overall wellness. Mama’s and Daddy’s are their children’s role model, hero, educator, supporter, and mentor.
I’ve always had a passion for educating women (and parents) and therefore their children on how to live a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. I am grateful to see the health and wellness trends in our culture and to finally see the pendulum swing in this direction of total person wellness. It really is more than what we eat and how much we exercise. In order for our children to grasp a healthy, holistic view of their bodies, it’s critical that we as parents and adults practice what we preach and provide a well lifestyle all around for them to know and experience. We must teach them from an early age how to cope with stress and the negative effects it can have on our bodies. We must have dialogue about the importance of knowing where our food comes from and how to eat to best fuel and sustain our bodies.
What an honor and privilege as a parent to have the opportunity to set the basic foundations of life for your children and to be able to influence the way your children feel about living a healthy lifestyle. Yes, this is a colossal responsibility and one not to be taken lightly, but the value you are building and the lessons you are teaching as so worth it.
Three Ways to Share Health and Wellness with Your Children and Family
- Make the most of every learning opportunity.
Growing up I asked a lot of ‘why’ questions. I am sure most children do. The world is so fascinating and young minds are curious to know how the world around them ticks. If your child asks you a question as to why you are eating what you are eating or why you exercise, take the time to engage with them on this and use it as an opportunity to give them a glimpse as to what health and wellness looks like. Often times we can shy away from talking about deeper or more “adult” topics with children because we feel they will not understand or perhaps aren’t really interested. Children’s brains are so moldable and absorb every little thing, so use that to your advantage and begin to share the deeper aspects of your personal wellness journey with them. We don’t give children enough credit sometimes. They really are capable of thinking critically and of gaining understanding, even from a young age. We must teach them whenever we can, as this is the best way to ensure they will grow up and have a healthy view of food, their body, mind, emotions, etc.
2. Create family food and fitness rhythms/traditions.
My husband and his family had a Saturday morning pancake tradition as he was growing up. If they were going to eat pancakes on a Saturday morning, his dad and him (and the other kids) would go for a little fun run/jog or a bike ride before eating pancakes. My husband has fond memories of this.
When we make healthy food and exercise a fun rhythm for our families, it will be a lot easier and manageable to maintain.
Perhaps you make it a point to go on a nightly walk with the dog and kiddos after dinner. This is a great rhythm and tradition because it will not only help your food digest and get you moving, but it’s a great way to be intentional with your family and have meaningful, undistracted conversation.
It’s important for children as well as adults to have a daily exercise regiment. Exercise is imperative for a child’s growth and development, as well as helping them learn how to manage stress from a young age. Exercise in children has been shown to help them academically and improve their thinking.
Creating healthy eating habits and rhythms can be as simple as one time a week cooking a new, healthy recipe together as a family and learning about the different vegetables and ingredients and the benefits of each ingredient for our bodies.
When we create healthy rhythms and traditions with our family, we are not only educating our children on how to live a healthy lifestyle, but we are also reinforcing family bonds and deepening our relationships with our children.
3. Bring your children along for the journey.
Don’t be afraid to invite your children to workout with you. Take them to the park and let them run off some steam while you do your routine in the park with a friend or your spouse.
One of the main problems is that many people associate fitness and exercise with a gym and equipment. Fitness can be done anywhere, anytime! Exercising doesn’t have to be done within the walls of a gym space. It can be done outside, in your living room, the driveway, at the school gymnasium, you name it! It’s time we break out of the traditional box we’ve put exercise in to and make it more creative, fun, and interesting. I promise you when we break down the walls we’ve put around traditional fitness and exercise, you will find it to be more enjoyable and easier to maintain.
Invite your kiddos to do your exercise video with you in the living room. What a fun time full of giggles as they try to learn new moves and poses alongside of you.
While I only touched on a few ways to incorporate health and wellness into your family life, there are so many other creative and fun ways to become healthier together. Most importantly, remember to keep it fun and enjoyable for everyone!