Summer's fading fast, which means everyone will soon be on the go, thanks to crazy school and work schedules. Of course, one of the first things to nosedive once the stress of the season sets in is personal wellness. Don't let this happen!
To help, here are four ridiculously easy wellness tips for kids (and two more for parents).
1. Play outside every day.
Yes, it sounds overly simple, but some of us need the friendly reminder. Researchers say that kids don't get enough outdoor playtime. According to the American Medical Association, children two and older should "participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day that are developmentally appropriate and varied."
Remember, every little bit helps. So even if your child doesn't have a 60-minute block of time, divide the playtime into two 30-minute blocks or even four 15-minute blocks. Running around, playing kick ball or hide and seek, swinging, climbing—all these things are important and fun. (And, yes, adults should try to get outside every day as well.)
2. Celebrate "New Food Friday."
The key to getting kids to try new foods, especially the all-important fruits and veggies, is to make it fun. So start "New Food Friday" and allow your child to choose the vegetable or fruit he or she will try. For older kids, you could take it a step further and, together, prepare the food a couple of different ways.
For example, take sweet potatoes—you could serve them mashed and baked as sweet potato fries. Both are healthy and easy to make.
3. Read for fun.
No doubt, homework can be overwhelming for kids, but you shouldn't let pleasure-reading slide as a result. And if you have elementary-aged kids, continue reading to them.
The New York Times reports that reading aloud to kids through elementary school seems connected to "a love of reading in general," not to mention the increased bonding time between parent and child. (Another study suggests that kids who read Harry Potter tend to be more tolerant of others.)
4. Participate in family dinners.
Studies show that family mealtimes equal happier, healthier kids. And it's good for adults as well (we all need a smartphone-free place where casual conversation is the top priority, right?).
Get everyone excited about family mealtimes by including children in the process—from brainstorming menus to meal prep to cleanup. During dinner, keep the conversation light, happy, and engaging. If your family can't commit to family dinners every night of the week due to people's schedules, make sure you're doing it at least a few times a week. Consistency is important.
Two Important Wellness Tips for Parents…
1. Model good behavior.
If you're trying to get your kids to eat better, exercise more, spend less time in front of a screen, and so forth, well, guess what? You, as the parent, need to role model the behaviors you want to see. If you spend your time on the couch in front of the TV with a bag of chips, well…you can see where this is headed.
Sure, as the parent, you deserve to do some things that you want to do (and if that involves indulging in some mindless TV from time to time, that's fine). But kids learn from you. They mimic you. They use you as their guide regarding how to behave. So if you want to instill a love of reading in your children, for example, block out a few nights a week where everyone sits down and reads. Don't make it a chore. Make it fun (again, kids take their cues from you).
2. Communicate with your doctor—and your child's doctor—about your wellness plans.
Wellness is a lifelong journey. For kids, it starts at home, but other places and people in the child's life should reinforce wellness goals. Your family doctor is one of those people. Include him or her in your wellness plans. (Psst. Be sure to check out the benefits of our Total Wellness Program, which comes standard with all Total Access Medical memberships.)
What sort of wellness activities do you and your kids do? Share in the comments below.