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Creating a family culture around a handful of good family habits, small as they may be, can help strengthen family bonds, increase happiness, develop concentration skills, and reduce stress.
These 11 family habits can help your family lead a healthier and less stressful lifestyle.
Reduce stress, increase happiness! © Gemma Del Hoyo
Read With Your Child Before Bed
Reading anytime of day is great, though many families find it easiest to create a habit of reading at bedtime. Reading is critical for children to develop vocabulary and learn language. It also helps children learn to concentrate. When parents read with their children, it strengthens the relationship between the child and parent.
Reading helps children to concentrate / Photo by Annie Spratt
Each night, after your child pulls on some comfy pants and a cozy shirt, cuddle up together with a book and immerse yourself in a world of imagination, creativity, and bonding. Even if you read for just fifteen minutes per night, it adds up to over eight hours each month and ninety hours per year!
Establish No Phone Zones or No Phone Times
Create spaces in your house or times of the day when your family does not use cell phones or screens. For example, consider establishing rules that phones are not allowed in bedrooms or at the dinner table. Screen time reduces a child’s ability to concentrate and is a roadblock in connecting with your kids. For many children, screens overstimulate their brains and this can lead to tantrums and anxiety.
Cell phones and screens are a reality of our world today. You cannot avoid them entirely. You can, however, ensure that your home includes spaces free from cell phones and ripe for cognitive and emotional development.
Eat Together Once A Day
According to a variety of research, children and young adults who participate in family dinners develop better literacy skills and have higher academic performance, engage is less high-risk behavior, experience less depression and anxiety, and have healthier diets as adolescents and into young adulthood.
Eat together once a day / Photo by Hannah Tasker
Make your best effort to have at least one meal a day together. You might share dinner, breakfast, or a picnic lunch between activities on the weekends. No matter how you spend the meal, your family benefits from the time and quality conversation together.
Allow Children To Dress Themselves
You may not always love their sense of style. But allowing children to dress themselves is a great opportunity for them to develop independence and creativity. It gives children a chance to make low-risk decisions. They practice small motor skills picking their t-shirt out of their drawer and large motor skills pulling on their leggings. As an added bonus, you can save a few minutes not having to dress them on a busy morning.
Add A Caring Note To Your Child’s Lunch Box
Small but not trivial, you might be surprised how much your child loves a little note in their lunch box. Write a quick note on a piece of scrap paper to remind your child how much you love them. It will certainly bring a smile to their face.
Hug or Kiss Your Spouse and Kids
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of work, chores, and commitments. Don’t forget to show your loved ones that you haven’t forgotten about them. Like a note in their lunch box, give your child or significant other a hug or kiss when you get home at the end of the day. It’s a quick and simple reminder that you really care.
Cuddle time! / Photo by Caroline Hernandez
Research shows that people internalize negative comments more than positive feedback. People need five positive affirmations or interactions for every negative critique. Even if you feel like the hello hugs and loving lunch box notes are redundant, remember the ideal ratio of positive to negative affirmations. Another sweet sentiment won’t hurt :)
Do your best to step outside for a bit of fresh air with your family, even if you only have time for a quick ten-minute walk. Research shows that children concentrate better after spending time outside. Sunlight increases vitamin D levels. Being outside also tends to increase physical activity levels which is good for your health and your happiness.
Playing outside makes your child happy / © Orbasics
Drink Plenty of Water
Water makes up nearly 60% of our bodies, and it is vital to properly functioning organs and overall good health. Yet many people do not drink enough water. Even mild dehydration can trigger headaches and fatigue and reduce the ability to concentrate.
Carry a water bottle with you to make drinking water for you and your kids convenient. And try adding fruits to bring more flavour to your drinks (our favourite is adding cucumber, lime and strawberry into the water).
Hey, drink water more!
Meditate With Your Children
Dedicate a few minutes each day to meditate with your child. Many young children cannot sit still for long periods of time, but meditation is more than sitting in silence. Try coloring or doing a puzzle with you child. Quiet, meditative activities help children feel calm and increase confidence and concentration.
Ensure Everything Has “A Home”
Clutter not only compromises your space but it also bombards your brain. Clutter over-stimulates the brain and distracts from important tasks. Be sure that everything in your house has a space where it can be properly stored. If you do not have space to store items, consider whether or not you really need them and if it might be time to discard or donate them.
Create Family Holiday Traditions
Special family traditions around the holidays offer perfect opportunities to create memories together. They become a great way to reflect on the past together. They also become comfortable and familiar activities to look forward to each year as the holiday approaches.
Healthy family habits make you and your kids happier :) / Photo by Kalli Marie
Breaking old and creating new, healthier family habits can be hard. But you don’t have to tackle everything at once! Choose one or two of the healthy family habits above and try them out in your home. When they start to feel second-nature, try adding another healthy habit to your home. Over time, you’ll develop an array of habits that help build a family culture of happiness, health, and positive connections.
Jen has a passion for pairing her creative pursuits and big ideas to translate emerging topics in sustainable living into actionable habits everyday families can employ. She is a parent, a member of the Executive Team for Ethical Writers and Creatives, and a Board Member and Treasurer of her local library. You can count on Jen and her work to inspire modern families to rethink the status quo because our choices today can light a brighter tomorrow.