By Mary Ann Russo, MS, RD, CDN, Pediatric Nutritionist
Did you know May is Family Wellness Month? It was created to help families overcome their biggest challenges to staying healthy and connected – our busy pace of life. The goal is to provide an opportunity to reflect on family habits, lifestyles and find ways to improve mental and physical health. May is almost over but the positive results from changes in habits and activities will continue into the summer and the rest of the year.
What can you do for Family Wellness Month?
Sometimes the biggest obstacle is where to start. Do you wish you had more time to spend together? Can you improve physical health by adopting healthier eating habits or participating in physical activity? No matter what your answers are to these questions, it’s never too late to make a change for the better. Here are some ideas for taking charge of Family Wellness Month.
- Try new foods no one in your family has tried before.
- Cook dinner together one night per week.
- Slow down and eat dinner together at the table instead of on the run.
- Cut out pop and soda and replace with water.
- Be a good role model for your children. If they have to eat their veggies, so do you!
- Go grocery shopping, visit a local farm market, and let the whole family help plan the meals.
- Find healthy alternatives to a favorite recipe.
- Start a garden.
Get your family active:
- Pick an new family activity to do on the weekend go for a bike ride, a hike, play a game of tag, go for a walk after dinner or if the weather is bad play an active video game.
- Explore a new park. An inexpensive and fun activity is trying to visit every park in your city or neighborhood. Create a memory book by taking pictures of each park.
- Have the entire family work together on a project like cleaning the house or yard.
- Park farther away when you go to the store. Have the kids count how many steps they take to get to the door.
Plan some family time:
- Game Night: Board and card games never go out of style. Even a simple card game will give the family a chance to spend some quality time together. It also is a great opportunity for everyone to work on math skills, critical thinking skills and other brain functions so we all stay sharp.
- Family Project: A fun family project to do together is make a scrapbook of everything you did during the past school year and plan on doing in the summer. Let each family member be in charge of a few pages that highlight their favorite activities with family, friends or schoolmates over the last nine months.
- Volunteer together: Spend a day helping others and connecting over a common purpose.
- Visiting Family: It is Family Wellness Month after all, so make it a point this month to go visit grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins you don’t get around to seeing as often as you’d like. If family is too far to make a visit plan a Skype date with them!