Raising children is a rewarding – and challenging – adventure. As parents, it’s our job to keep our children happy and healthy. Keeping them happy is hard enough, but keeping them healthy? Well that’s another story altogether. And of course, health isn’t just about not getting sick, it’s also about developing good habits in hygiene, eating, and mental development. With the media filled with warnings about ever-increasing health threats like super flus and the corona virus, not to mention warnings about the effects of technology, many of us are looking for ways to not only keep our kids physically and mentally healthy now, but teach them habits that will keep them healthy in mind and body throughout their lives. This can feel overwhelming, which is why it’s good to have a few simple health hacks on hand for every area of their lives.
In order to keep our kids healthy in mind and body, we have to teach them how to make healthy decisions throughout life. Simply put, we need to teach them lessons that will stick with them. They need to learn how to take care of their bodies inside and out. And as we all know, kids don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to taking care of themselves, but fortunately, there are hacks for your home that will help you make your kids’ lives healthier. So today, we’re going to look at different rooms of the house and offer some health hacks for each of them.
Simple Health Hacks for Every Room of the House
Bathroom: Proper Hygiene Health Hacks
Hygiene is an important aspect of an overall healthy body. Of particular importance is bath time, dental health, and hand washing.
Depending on your kid’s age, there are things you can do to make bath time more fun. Bath bombs, bathtime crayons, and traditional bath toys can make any child’s bath more fun while helping them learn the importance of proper, regular hygiene.
For the older kids, try some tech. Bluetooth and/or waterproof speakers can provide entertainment for those reluctant to spend more than five minutes in the bathroom.
For dental health, in addition to regular visits to the dentist, kids should be brushing at least twice a day – and may need your help until they are as old as seven or eight to make sure it’s done properly. Children should brush their teeth for two minutes, which may feel like a lifetime for some kids – and create some resistance. Here are some ways to get them excited:
- Let them choose their own toothbrush, perhaps in their favorite color or with a character.
- Let them help choose their toothpaste
- Use a timer to or play their favorite song to help them hit that two minute mark
- Use a reward system or chart with stickers (not sugary treats!)
- For older kids, consider getting them and electric toothbrush with their own toothbrush subscription to keep them engaged.
When it comes to washing hands, again their are rules. To effectively clean hands, warm water and soap should be used and hands should be washed for 20 seconds. For little ones, consider teaching them a song or other way to count out the time. You can also use fun, colorful soaps to get their attention and keep them interested.
Kitchen: Healthy Eating Hacks
It is important to instill positive dietary habits for kids. While getting kids to eat healthy is by no means the most difficult task parenting has to offer, it’s up there. And getting them to eat vegetables might be considered one of the top challenges. That’s when it’s time to pull out some health hacks for healthy eating. Call it underhanded, call it deceitful, but when it comes to getting your kids to eat healthy, you have to do what you have to do.
To get your kids to eat their veggies, don’t be afraid to disguise vegetables through creative blending. One way to disguise healthy food is by preparing vegetables with similar colored, more palatable food. For example, use macaroni and cheese to disguise corn. Granted, they will know once they bite into a kernel, but it is still getting the food into their mouths and tasting better than what they’re normally used to. Another way to disguise food is by blending. Stew and then blend carrots, for example, with apples, strawberries and other tasty fruit.
Another health hack in the kitchen is to make the foods they already love healthier. If they like pizza, there are various alternatives available. For example, instead of regular crust, use tortillas. You can still use tomato sauce, but try crumbled meatballs instead of sausage. This will give you the traditional pizza taste without all the grease. For potato chips, break up whole wheat pitas, lightly brush them with olive oil and toss them in the oven for five minutes to make pita chips. And the list goes on. Do some simple searches on the internet and find ways to turn their favorite foods into tasty alternatives and they’ll be eating healthier in no time.
As now, as many do after dinner, let’s move to the living room…
Living room: Health Hacks for Screen Time
It is well known that too much screen time (re: TV and game play) is not good for adults or children. It can be even more detrimental to kids because it encourages sedentary habits instead of physical activity. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than one to two hours of television a day for children over the age of two – and none for children under 18 months. For older kids, technology like phones and iPads may make it hard to limit how much time they spend in front of the screen. But there are some things you can do, such as:
- For younger kids, go for quality over quantity. Let them watch high-quality shows, then turn it in to a game over dinner or at bedtime where you discuss what they watched. This helps you get away with less screen time because they know they will get quality time with you after.
- Create “media free” zones in the house and keep containers nearby for EVERYONE to deposit handheld technology while in those spaces
- Keep board games or card games in the living room to encourage play rather than technology
- Let kids use age-appropriate apps that are educational and interactive as part of their screen time.
Granted, it is up to the parents, but overexposure to technology is proven to take its toll. In particular, be cautious of exposure to violence and sex on television and in games as too much exposure can desensitize children to what is harmful in real life. It can lead to such things as depression, nightmares, and anxiety as well. In other words, make sure you not only know how much they’re watching, but what they’re watching, as well.
Just remember, home is where the heart is – and that makes your home the ideal place to teach your children how to be healthy individuals throughout their lives.
Kids cannot always be trusted to make informed decisions when it comes to their own health. They need to know that health does not just include eating healthy, but also other things they “consume” as well. As a parent, keeping kids healthy and happy are your two biggest priorities. Being successful in this task will help make raising children one of life’s most rewarding endeavors. So get creative with these simple health hacks – and make health and hygiene something is not only easy to learn, but fun to teach, as well!