Get a healthy head start on the New Year with these 5 family-friendly resolutions:
Make handwashing a habit
This simple health habit can be tricky to instill in little ones and big kids alike (we’ve all hand the 10-minute hand-scrubbing battle in the bathroom, and it’s definitely no fun). But the truth is, proper hand-washing is one of the easiest ways to keep your family well.
Some hand-washing tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure kids wash their hands (including scrubbing in between fingers) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – about the time it takes to sing the alphabet or Happy Birthday song twice.
- It’s easier to make handwashing a habit if it’s built in to the daily routine – after the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, after playing outside. Whatever your family's routine, consistency is key.
- Make hand-washing more kid-friendly by having a stool, fun soap and a special towel set up in the bathroom or kitchen to make it seem less like a chore.
- Need more incentive for older kids? Remind them of all the things we touch each day -- keyboards, telephones, door handles. All these germs can end up on our hands, in our mouths, even on our skin. Not only can this make us sick, it can also lead to breakouts, and further irritate existing skin conditions.
Try a digital detox
Did you know that on average, kids are spending up to 7.5 hours on some type of digital device each day? And we’re not just talking teenagers. Children as young as 2 are also using tablets and smartphones, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some kids begin interacting with digital media as early as 4 months old.
While a little bit of screen time is fine, too much can negatively affect your child’s sleep patterns, behavior, mood and attention, weight and grades in school.
For 2017, consider instituting a screen-free day each week, and replace the time you would’ve spent watching television or playing on a tablet with playing outside, cooking dinner together or taking a walk as a family.
These digital detox tips from Strong4Life are also a great place to start
Set a new goal
Goal-setting as a family teaches kids a lot about perseverance and accountability – not to mention that boost of pride they’ll get when they’ve reached them – so aim to set a new one each month. It doesn’t have to be big or difficult. In fact, smaller goals are better because they’re more attainable, and the more attainable a goal, the more likely we are to stick with it.
Consider goals such as:
- Spending an extra 30 minutes outside each day
- Eating out one less day per week
- Trying one new activity as a family
- Signing up for a sport
- Joining a club
- Finishing one book per month
- Saving up a certain amount of allowance money each week/month
Fill up your calendar with healthy reminders
Take a second to schedule out any annual immunizations, physicals, doctor’s appointments or other important health dates early on in the year. We understand how hectic your days can get, and by setting those reminders early, it makes it easier to prioritize your family’s health before the calendar starts filling up.
Earlier in the year is better, too, for planning out fun summer camps and vacations, and much less stressful than scrambling last minute.
Make time to volunteer as a family
Volunteering is a great way not only to connect with your family, but also to give back to your community, and teach children important, health-boosting concepts such as empathy and gratitude. Volunteering also helps boost physical activity levels, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress, and is a great way to help teenagers build up their high school resume and make new friends.
Not sure where to start?
- Try taking your family to a local animal shelter to walk shelter pets.
- Contact your local park or recreation service and sign on to help plant trees or flowers, or clean up a park in your area.
- Visit a local community food bank to donate and volunteer, or volunteer with a local Meals on Wheels program to help deliver food.
- Write letters to servicemen overseas.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta also offers volunteer opportunities for families, and accommodates kids of all ages
This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.