It’s no secret, our entire family has spent more time stationary in front of the screen more in the last nine months than ever before. Between online school, constant zoom meetings and lack of organized sports we could all medal in an Olympic couch surfing competition. We felt the pull of the couch and realized, for our little family, we are ALL better humans once we’ve had some exercise. And we don’t frame the need for activity around “getting a beach body.” We talk about the mental and physical benefits of an active lifestyle.
We have this family rule: Our kids don’t need to be professional athletes but they do need to be active most days. This doesn’t mean they need to run a marathon, obviously, but they need to get moving. Us too!
When it comes to the health of your family, it really needs to be a team effort. You can start by creating a family wellness plan to provide direction for everyone in your home.
Step One: Consider everyone’s goals, needs, and interests
Every member of your family is different and those differences need to be considered. Sit down together and make a list for each person: age, dietary restrictions, health concerns and obligations. Think about the patterns and routines that have formed in your household. Identifying what everyone needs to stay well will help you determine the best route to their individual goals.
I have created a habit of completing one of the Well Body Reset strength workouts about 5 days a week. I also strive for 10,000 steps a day. Penn has converted our garage into a mini Crossfit gym. Our son loves to run and shoot hoops in the driveway. He will run around the block, shoot the basketball, run some more etc. Lola loves tennis and the CDC has said it’s a safe sport to play right now. She and Penn will hit around most days but she wants to add running into her routine.
Step Two: Set a budget
Looking at your family members’ needs and routines, maybe it’s clear you all need more physical activity. Or maybe everyone’s gotten a bit too familiar with that food delivery app that delivers tacos and cupcakes in under 30 minutes (guilty). Examining your spending on food and activities can help you set a budget that allows for a membership to an online wellness program or a healthy food subscription service. With any budget, take all of your necessary expenses into account to see what may be off balance or where you can make room and set some new limits.
Step Three: Create a weekly schedule
Schedules, lists…they’re my drug of choice. And they keep me sane. Set a weekly family schedule for food shopping, cooking and being active all together. Teaching your kids a nutritious recipe or showing them the importance of regular exercise will set them up for a lifetime of healthier habits.
Here’s an example:
- Every Sunday: Hit the grocery store and farmer’s market. Meal prep easy breakfast and lunch options for the week together.
- Monday-Thursday: Each person logs 1 hour of physical activity. Their choice.
- Monday-Friday: Each person takes the lead making dinner on their designated night. Yes, it’s messy when the kids take over but I keep telling myself “They are developing life skills” as they use every single dish in the kitchen to prep tacos.
- Every Saturday: Family activity time. Something physical like hiking, a game of basketball, etc.
It’s not perfect every week, but it’s a good framework.
Step Four: Decide on rewards
A long-term goal for the entire family to work toward is a great way to keep everyone on track, you just need to be mindful of how you present it with kids. We all deserve to eat and to rest so words matter. Instead of saying, “Let’s eat healthy all week and on Friday nights we get pizza!” try “If we meet our goal to cook dinner five nights this week we get to order in on the weekend.” Yes, there’s a solid chance they will still pick the pizza (who wouldn’t). When it comes to physical goals, the reward could be a hiking weekend or a sporting event, maybe some new workout gear or equipment if it’s in the budget.
Step Five: Monitor your progress
Sit down together each month and see how everyone is doing. How are we feeling? How are we sleeping? How’s work and school going? Do we all hate dance cardio? (Just Penn?) Needs and goals will change over time as children age and schedules become more complicated. We have to be flexible. But it’s always important to know where everyone’s at with their health so you can make changes and stay on top of any issues. Regular encouragement never hurts as well.
And oh yeah, have some fun, too!
Does your family have a wellness plan? Share your tips for prioritizing health as a family in the comments.