We all know how important it is to guard our health, but when was the last time you considered making a health plan for your family? Drawing up simple, realistic goals for your family to achieve and maintain good health can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of excellent health habits.
“I strongly recommend that parents take the time to create health goals for their family,” said North Texas Pediatrics physician, Dr. Amy Pass. “Do your goals include daily exercise, healthy snacks, family meal time, adding more fruits & vegetables to your diet? Whatever your goals may be for you and your children, now is the time to define them and implement them.”
5 Goals Every Family Health Plan Needs:
- Improving eating habits – set a goal for family mealtime at least 4-5 nights per week, have healthy snacks ready, increase fruits & veggies, increase water consumption and avoid soda, sports drinks and juice, consider vitamins & minerals supplements if needed. Involve older children in meal planning, shopping and prep to foster ownership of the health goals.
- Increasing an active lifestyle – find ways to be active. Use your resources: gym membership, bike path, good sidewalks, elliptical, dog who needs walking, playground, pool or baseball diamond. Younger kids with lots of energy to burn should get to pick the activity once in a while.
- Limiting electronics – more and more scientific data points to electronics linked to depression in children. Set limits for how much screen time each person is getting. If your child is truly addicted to electronics, expect some withdrawal symptoms the first two weeks. Also, take time to become educated about online safety for your children.
- Tracking healthcare needs – plan well-child visits, immunizations, dentist, and eye care. Look into state and local services for lower cost options, if needed.
- Considering mental and spiritual health – try relaxation techniques, read-alouds or audiobooks, and relaxing with your children while you hear about their day. Doing fun things together helps everyone decompress from a stressful day and feel more centered. Don’t forget to spend that extra 10-15 minutes with each child helping them and talking face to face about any challenges/problems they may be experiencing during their school day.
Benefits of Family Health Goals
Wondering why you should bother with all this? There are sound reasons to work toward health goals, including:
- Good health habits carry into adulthood
- Good health means better energy for pursuing opportunities
- Increased sense of satisfaction and success
- Added family unity and cohesiveness
- Creating bonding and special memories
- Builds character traits such as persistence and work ethic
- Builds a sense of ownership in protecting your health
- Great way to cope with stress
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Make a habit of sitting down together to eat as a family, with positive conversation.
- Do volunteer work together as a family for your favorite charity. The more physically active, the better.
- Set regular bedtime hours and stick to it. “School-aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep to be healthy,” said Dr. Pass. “Preschoolers need even more and teens don’t function well with sleep deprivation. So it’s up to the parents to make sure this happens each night.”
- Make meal planning fun. Incorporate other cultures for healthy cuisine including fruits and vegetables.
Get Help Today
To help you get started, call North Texas Pediatrics at (214) 553-0705 to find out when your next comprehensive well-child visit and immunizations should be. “We have resources to help you make great health goals for your family, so call us to schedule a check-up today.” said Dr. Pass.
Meet Dr. Amy Pass
Dr. Amy Pass is a board-certified pediatrician. She loves seeing newborns and children of all ages, including school-aged children with behavior concerns, as well as adolescents. Dr. Pass loves getting to know her patients and building relationships with families. She brings a personalized approach to every child.
Dr. Pass and her husband, Steven, have three delightful children. Outside of work, Dr. Pass serves on the Board of Directors for the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation. She enjoys volunteering in the community, reading, and taking long walks with her dog.