Every January, people resolve to make major changes in their lives, like eating healthy or exercising more, but often fall short because the goals are not well-defined and time is not allotted each day to make changes.
Laura M. Rosch, DO, an osteopathic internist in Chicago who's also a mother of three, understands how difficult it can be for parents to find time to take care of themselves while juggling their responsibilities at home and at work. Instead, Dr. Rosch suggests ditching New Year’s resolutions and creating healthy lifestyle changes for the entire family instead.
“Every day as a parent I help my children learn the importance of making healthy choices, like drinking milk or fortified almond milk instead of soda with their lunch,” says Dr. Rosch. “People are more likely to be successful in achieving a goal when they have a concrete plan, such as practicing yoga three times per week, instead of an undefined goal of exercising more.”
To get started, Dr. Rosch suggests the following goals families can use to create healthy behaviors in the new year:
Convert couch time into “active” family time. Instead of watching television or playing video games, families can pursue an “active” hobby like sports or walking that not only gets everyone moving but also creates an opportunity for quality family time.
Make healthy food the norm around the house. If parents eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, chances are there will be more fruits and vegetables in the house for children to eat. In turn, children may be more likely to gravitate toward healthy snacks when making their own food selections outside the home.
Take time to relax. It is important to learn at a young age how to deal with stress, which can lead to health issues. Parents can show children how to deal with difficult situations and encourage the family to take time relax by doing enjoyable activities like writing in a journal, talking with friends or reading a book.
Add healthy behaviors to the family calendar. Be sure to set aside time for exercise, relaxation and those “active” hobbies by writing these activities down in the family calendar next to other set appointments like school plays and basketball practice. It is also a way for parents to teach their children about time management, which in turn can help everyone deal with stress better.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help you get healthy and stay well. They also encourage your body’s natural tendency toward self-healing.