1. Eating well
Did you know it takes 10 times for children to develop a taste for a new food? Don’t give up on your cause so quickly. In my family, we grow vegetables together. It’s not only great to have fresh food around, but involving your children in the growing process can get them really excited to give the food a try! To get them into it, let them pick one or two vegetables to plant.
For breakfast, try a new fruit. If you’re a busy mom, canned fruit will do if you are in a pinch. Just wash it off before serving; there is sometimes sugar syrup in the canned fruit. Frozen fruits are also very nutritious. Just let them thaw for a few minutes before serving.
Don’t underestimate the incredible-edible-eggs! Eggs have seven amino acids and are a great source of protein too. Try a smoothie with the kids and let them make it: 1 cup of vanilla low fat yogurt and frozen fruit. Then blend.
For lunch and dinner, I give my son two choices for vegetables. If you have a lot of time, you can give more options. The important part here is to GIVE your child a choice in what they eat- it makes them feel more in control.
Especially when you’re on the go, be sure to have healthy snack options when you go off for the day so everyone eats healthy good choices. Don’t cave and stop at Wendy’s.
Our kids really do pick up our habits. It’s your responsibility as the mom or the dad to make working out work for you. So practice what you preach. We get up and ride bikes together in the mornings. Since we do it together, my son also bikes by himself. He rides his bike to sailing in summer and to school in the winter. If biking isn’t your thing, try taking a walk together after dinner. If all else fails, let your kids pick the activities and go have fun! (That being said, I am not going to play goalie when he wants to practice lacrosse. Those balls can really hurt! Ouch!)
3. Doing chores
You’re a mom. Not a maid. Let your kids help with cleaning up the table after meals, folding laundry, vacuuming, changing bed sheets, dusting, and washing windows. Believe it or not, my son has a job as a Professional Pooper Scooper down the street for pay! A strong work ethic paves the way for more self-respect and accountability. And of course - good health requires one to be accountable to oneself! As a parent, it is important to give positive feedback for a job well-done. So just be sure to say, “I love you!” or “Thank you!”
4. Talking to each other
When we sit down for dinner or lunch, it’s an unplugged affair. I mean no electronics, no TV, and no cell phones. Mealtime is an ideal time to talk to each other- like really talk. You can use this block of time to plan for upcoming events or simply share what’s going on. I was born into a family of eight children; my mom would go around the table and everyone would have a chance to talk about what’s happening. I used to have the hardest time waiting for my turn!
5. Roots and wings
Kids need both roots and wings! I’m a huge proponent of giving kids choices, options, and freedoms, but they also need limits. In my house, I limit TV and Xbox to two hours per day. I like to play board games we have my husband’s 1967 version of the game Trouble! We play that together because it’s a family favorite. Otherwise, we go for backgammon or cards. The point here is that we use recreational time to play together. And quite honestly, I have no desire to play Xbox. That said, giving kids a food and fitness framework will be a good guide-pole for them to adopt healthier habits.
Lori Tobin is the founder of SporTobin, a Hull-based apparel company with workout clothes that work for you! Lori has spoken actively on the South Shore and beyond about healthy eating habits and exercise. She has also been involved in the fight against breast cancer and with the MSPCA, among other causes. She's most excited about her upcoming book, Renaissance Mother, a tool guide for moms and dads to living a healthier, happier life.
Learn more at SporTobin.com.