As a mom and a physician, I frequently think about my family’s health and how I can continually improve it. By no means do I ensure that my toddler only eats ‘healthy’ foods. Between the goldfish and fruit snacks, I feel most accomplished when he at least gets some calories in him. However, I do try to make healthy living part of our daily life. In the busy world of working and parenting, here are some ways I have effectively prioritized the health of myself and my family.
Make Exercise a Family Matter
I enjoy trail running and when I am able to, I will hit the trails and enjoy a solo run. However, I also ensure that my family and I exercise together. We purchased a comfortable hiking backpack for my son and have explored most of the trails in Colorado Springs. In order to get my son interested hiking (he’s 3), we go frequently and get him excited about it, too. We let him bring toys to play with before and after the hike, and make the hikes as exciting as possible for him.
I think most important is being consistent.
My son doesn’t fuss or complain about hikes because he knows this is something we do frequently together as a family. Since it has become part of our routine and is one of our most frequent activities, he knows what to expect. Some of the best hikes we have found for a toddler are the trails surrounding the Garden of the Gods, almost any hike in Cheyenne Canon, and some of the shorter routes at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
We are so fortunate in Colorado Springs to have so many sunny days.
Even if the temperature is low, often it is warm in the sun. Whenever we have the chance, my family and I are outside. We go to playgrounds, dig in the dirt in the backyard, or do chores around the house. Being outside not only gets you to be more active, but also improves your mood! Just remember the sunscreen!
Minimize Screen Time
Sometimes, the cold weather prohibits outside activity.
But when are stuck inside, I try to limit television and other screen activities. I encourage my son to play inside with his toys and provide interaction to pique his interest. Additionally, I often exercise in our home gym with him playing by my side. When the cabin fever becomes too intense, we will head to the mall and walk around. Or go to one of Colorado Springs’ indoor play places. Just getting out and staying active lowers the temptation to put on a movie and sit in front of the TV during a cold day.
I try to feed my son three meals, rather than just snacking throughout the day. In addition, I make sure he has a ‘healthy’ snack—like apples, yogurt, cheese—before consuming toddler snack favorites!
I also prioritize making home cooked meals. I have found that preparation, using the slow cooker, and planning your meals all help to expedite the meal making process when you are in a hurry or strapped for time! Having a meal as a family is also a priority of ours, and ensures we are conscientious of how much and what our son is eating.
Model Healthy Behavior
Probably most important is making consistent healthy choices yourself. Your kids will follow suit. If they see that exercise is part of your routine, it will come naturally for them to emulate your behavior.
My hope is that through creating good habits now, one day my son will be an active adult who both nurtures and challenges himself and maintains a healthy lifestyle!