When you’re trying to juggle the never-ending pile of laundry, dishes stacked a mile, getting everyone to school on time, and grocery shopping for the week (let alone prepping for this evening’s dinner), prioritizing how to be healthy with kids can seem like an impossible task. We get it — when your to-do list is growing by the minute, sometimes it feels like there are simply not enough hours in the day to prioritize exercise or healthy eating. But, it doesn’t have to be so hard! In fact, staying healthy as a family might make your day even easier. I mean, if healthy family habits lead to increased energy, enhanced mood, better sleep, and fewer health issues, wouldn’t life be a lot more simple? If anything, we think less cranky kids, and maybe, just maybe a few quiet mornings while everyone is getting deeper sleep sounds pretty worthwhile!
Most importantly, by prioritizing a healthy family lifestyle, you can feel good knowing you’re instilling healthy habits (and thus, a better quality of life) in your kids from an early age.
If that alone doesn’t convince you, Family Health and Fitness Day is here to remind us just how important staying healthy as a household is.
What is Family Health & Fitness Day?
Family Health and Fitness Day is a national holiday that falls on the last Saturday of September. Just as its name implies, this holiday serves to emphasize the importance of staying active as a household by prioritizing health and wellness and how to be healthy with kids.
Why Health From an Early Age Matters
An astonishing amount of children are at risk for health-related issues such as obesity and diabetes due to inactivity and unhealthy lifestyles. Currently, more than 150 million children in the world are obese. Even worse? This number is estimated to increase to 206 million by 2025. There’s no if, and, or buts about this statistic — childhood obesity is a true epidemic, one that comes with many, many health-related risks that could last a lifetime. That’s why Family Health and Fitness Day was born in 1996 — to encourage healthy households and bring awareness to the significant benefits of health and wellness from an early age.
What the Science Says
It may surprise you just how significant this impact can be! A recent Harvard study found mothers and children who practiced healthy habits (such as exercising and eating a healthy diet), were 82% less likely to be obese than mothers and children who did not. Something as simple as a daily walk could offer a big payoff!
Motivating Parent Advice From A Wellness Pro
Who better to offer advice than a busy mama managing to do it all!? We spoke with Krystina Cook, a mom of 3, top instructor at Pilates Plus La Jolla, owner of farm-to-table business Cooks Pigs, and founder of The Ranch, an outdoor luxury Ranch featuring outdoor excursions and wellness events. It’s safe to say, Cook truly embodies health and wellness from all aspects — for both herself and her (busy!!) family.
“I wear a lot of hats. Most importantly, I am a wife and a mom. I own and run our farm-to-table delivery business, our Ranch, and am a Lagree Pilates fitness instructor. I am passionate about our food system, functional wellness, staying connected to the earth, and staying connected to your food.” Cook, (no stranger to a go-go-go lifestyle) understands the importance of prioritizing a healthy household, even on the busiest of days.
When asked why health and wellness play such an important aspect in her life, Krystina says, “you need to be active to keep your kids active. It is our biggest responsibility as parents to raise well-rounded humans. Show them as an example that you are taking care of yourself, so then they will be motivated to do the same! Engage in their hobbies, even if they’re ever-changing. Their interests will likely change with age, but supporting them will go a long way in instilling healthy habits later on. Do what they do and make it fun. It all goes fast so stay present and stay connected and keep your family aligned,” says Cook.
Knowing just how beneficial a healthy household can be, let’s break down how to be healthy with kids, even for the busiest of families!
8 Ways to Be Healthy With Kids
#1 Involve Your Kids in the Cooking Process
Involving your kids in the cooking process may help encourage your kiddos (even picky eaters) to try new foods, and it may help them fall in love with the process (think: cooking, cleaning, shopping, meal planning).
Try getting your kids involved by bringing them to the grocery store and ask them to pick out healthy foods, plan out healthy meals to cook together, and ask them to help you meal prep or measure out the ingredients in a recipe.
#2 Make Simple Healthy Food Swaps
Transform not-so-healthy dishes into healthy meals and make it fun! Show them how fruit and veggie-filled dishes like spaghetti squash or banana nice cream can be just as tasty as pasta and ice cream.
#3 Walk Wherever You Can
After being cooped up for over a year, walk wherever you can! My kids live close enough to school where they can walk, says Krystina Cook. We walk to school or the park, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or sometimes even park further from our destination to get in more steps.
Beyond the physical benefits of exercise, walking can be beneficial mentally and emotionally, too. It’s a great way to slow down from the hustle and bustle of life and spend more quality time as a family.
#4 Take Chores Outdoors
Encourage them to get outside by giving them outdoor chores, says Krystina. This helps you check off things on your to-do list (a win for busy parents) while giving your kids a sense of responsibility and keeping them active!
This could be: Giving the dog a bath outside, helping wash the car or mow the lawn, gardening, or helping with landscape. Whatever age-appropriate chore that your kids can help with while also being outside in the fresh air is a win!
#5 Trade Screen Time for Active Time
Sometimes putting your kids in front of the screen so you can accomplish just one task is straight-up self-care (and if that one task is taking 5-minutes by yourself to breathe, we’re not judging). But, try to prioritize an active household by limiting screen time when possible! Instead, swap it for active time:
Try taking the game-time outside and encourage active games like hide-and-seek or tag. Team up for family activities like tennis, baseball, and kickball. For the best of both worlds, get a dance video game and make it a family game night! Your kids will get moving and get their video game fix all at once.
#6 Start The Day With A Healthy Breakfast
How to be healthy with kids when you have no time? Meal-prep a healthy breakfast!
When you have a healthy breakfast, you feel better, right? Well, your kids will feel the same! It can be tempting to let them eat the sugary cereal or syrup-laden waffles, but it’s not doing much for their energy, mood, or health — both short-term and long-term.
On busy mornings, try these easy-prep breakfasts! Did we mention they require zero cooking and take minutes to make?
#7 Model A Healthy Lifestyle
Kids are like sponges — they pick up on everything you do. If you’re walking instead of taking the elevator, reading instead of watching tv, spending time in nature instead of indoors, or doing a workout while they’re in the room, they’re likely to follow suit!
I take my kids to work with me and involve them in the process, says Krystina Cook. This could be coming with me to make deliveries for our farm-to-table business, tending to the animals while we’re running our business at the Ranch, or coming to the Pilates studio and seeing the mental and physical transformation of students before and after a workout.
How to be healthy with kids (even when you’re busy) is easier than you think — they’re always watching, always absorbing, and always learning! It’s about the small, day-to-day things.
#8 Talk To Your Kids About The Importance of Health and Fitness
Kids appreciate communication more than you think. They like feeling involved in the process and having “adult” conversations. This can be on the walk to school, driving home from work, or even before bed. It can be sitting down to discuss the importance of health, or it can be something more casual. Maybe as you’re prepping dinner, mentioning, “hey did you know that carrots contain nutrients that help support eyesight?” the next thing you know, those little hands will be reaching for more nutrient-dense options without being told!
If you’re struggling to implement healthy family habits, think of this as the busy person’s guide for how to be healthy with kids.
When life feels crazy, take a deep breath and remember: little lifestyle changes add up to make a big difference! Prioritizing a healthy household doesn’t have to be time or energy-consuming. We promise you got this!