Routines that start early in life often persist into adulthood. Exercise and eating right are just as important as daily toothbrushing. The pressure to meet academic benchmarks in school is growing, and unfortunately, this means that there is less time for physical education and free play for children during school hours. The rush to after school activities can leave little time for making healthy meals.
Parents also miss out on the benefits of healthy living habits to the hectic schedules as well. In a society in which we are so busy with juggling schedules, it takes even more planning to fit it all in. Making time for family, however, can leave the opportunity to fit more of these healthy habits.
Making healthy family habits together makes sense because it means everyone will be able to benefit from not only healthy routines but also for valuable time as a family. Health habits include making nutritious meals together, brushing and flossing together, or going to the park and playing together. The kids might not even miss that second after school activity if it means spending more time together.
I personally credit my healthy habits to my parents. Regardless of our routines, we sat down every night to a home-cooked meal and talked about the day's events. My mother would cook the vegetables and my dad would grill the protein on the back porch after he arrived home from work. I observed their team work and was always proud to help out by setting the napkins and silverware on the table. We talked about our daily activities at the table and shared moments together I will never forget. On the weekends, we would go to the beach or stay active together. These things all led to developing a routine for adulthood that I hope to share someday with a family of my own.
Research also shows that family leisure time creates better emotional health and bonding such as through gardening together, cooking together, or going on a walk together. From a mental health perspective, children that spend time communicating with their parents regularly also perform better in school, are at less risk for stress, and less likely to participate in substance abuse. All of these benefits add up to long term health gains, promoting lifelong health through simple family time. Those people with better mental health have also been shown to have better oral health, and so the benefits of a balanced family life prove to be more interconnected than we ever thought possible.