Perhaps feeling a little guilty about how much time you spend with your children doing stuff together? It is never too late to improve that situation.
Most of us have happy memories of our own childhood and it is very important that our children can experience and store up their own childhood memories too. And doing stuff together does not always mean lots of planning, spending money or hours and hours of time. Above all, children are happy to be with their parents. Memories of these times together can also serve as a good model for them for when they in turn become parents.
Make exercise part of everyday life as it is so essential to help children develop healthy minds and bodies as well as encouraging gross motor development. There are so many different ways to exercise together (whatever the weather) and you could be the catalyst for your child's lifelong interest in a particular sport or pastime. Suggestions include doing a yoga class together, going running together, playing ball games together or even dancing together. Children who are physically active tend to be healthier, happier (with good self-esteem and self-confidence) and better learners too. Physical activity helps children to improve their ability to focus and concentrate. Whether you are adult or child, exercise relieves stress, improves sleep, controls weight and contributes to a positive self image.
Eating is one of the easiest ways to spend time together while encouraging healthy food habits. Ditch the sodas, the processed food and the convenient take outs and start paying more attention to the kinds of food you buy. Have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available and make water the drink of choice along with occasional milk in your home. If you have any interest in improving your health and that of your family, you will already know what you should and should not be eating. Making your own meals from good whole living foods and enlisting the help of your children in doing so will reap dividends in improved health and quality time spent together. If you involve your children in the preparation of the food for the family, they will be more interested in what they are eating. It can require some patience on your side but apart from the time you are spending with them, your children are learning a skill. Instilling good eating and food preperation habits now will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Meal times together as a family can have numerous positive effects as well as making an opportunity to reconnect and learn about what’s going on in the lives of each member, especially as they grow older. If you can create a ritual of having meals together, encouraging conversation and sharing information, this will also ensure you have healthy food at the table and, at the very least, know what your children are eating.
Along with exercising and eating together, also share some relaxation time. This can be cuddles while reading a story or with older children, playing board games or watching a family movie. Make relaxing together a part of your regular routine. It is a good way to create some peace in the home.
Unplug the electronics
Monitor and limit the time your child spends playing video games, watching TV and on the computer and internet. It is really so much better not to allow a TV or computer in your child’s room. Set limited times for the TV and computer and be sure to enforce this but remember it works both ways so you will need to be a good example and as parents, not watch too much yourself! Unfortunately, exposure to too much TV can lead to behavioral problems, obesity and irregular sleep. There are so many digital strings pulling at us all the time, distracting us from our families around us. Turn them off and pay attention to each other. When there was a huge electricity outage in their city a few months ago, my children and grandchildren had one of their most enjoyable evenings ever. They lit candles, scraped together a meal and all the families in the cul-de-sac ended up outside in the dark with their torches and candles - the children playing games and the adults chatting. No TVs, no computers... just impromptu entertainment.
Limit the stimulation around bedtime by quietly winding down, reading a story and establishing a good bedtime routine. If you can make sure the the whole family gets enough sleep, everyone benefits as we rest as we sleep and our bodies are able to renew their energy. Good quality and sufficient sleep is one of the ways our bodies boost their immune system. Sleep deprivation can lead to a host of health problems.
Being positive rather than negative
Show warmth and love in your family and be grateful for what you have by discouraging an “I want” attitude. This will help your child be comfortable with who they are and allow them to feel compassion and understanding for others. Be aware of the good things that your child does by commenting on the positive rather than focusing on any negatives.
Get out and about
One of the best ways of exercising together is to be outdoors in nature. It does not matter what time of the year it is – you can dress accordingly. Children who spend time in nature learn how to respect the earth and a whole lot of other things too. They learn the importance of living in balance with our natural environment. It’s fun and healthy for all of you.
Talk and listen
While meal time is a great time to talk, there are other times throughout the day when it’s possible to stop, listen, and connect with your children. You can make the most of those times when you are in the car together stuck in traffic, standing in line at the store waiting to check out or just at home.
Make this time of the year a starting point for reviewing your family's habits and their quality time together and you will be surprised at the big difference any changes will make to your family's well being.
It’s all about quality.