How to Raise Healthy & Happy Children

How to Raise Healthy and Happy Children

Guest post on Get ConnectDAD

It is amazing the lifestyle changes that happen when you have a baby. Some of the changes our family made were bad, like less sleep and never getting anywhere on time. Other changes were good, like more time to play and healthy eating.  

When I got married I was considered obese. I didn’t realize how big I was until we got back from the honeymoon and I saw the pictures. Where did that belly come from? I made a decision to eat better and exercise and lost the weight. From that moment, I knew I had taught my kids the importance of being healthy in body, mind, and spirit.        

1 Corinthians 6:19

Healthy Body Romans 12:1

Treat your body well, you only get one.   

Eat Well: Not only do my wife and I prepare nutritious meals for our children, but we also talk to them constantly about the importance of eating right. There are fruits or vegetables at every meal. Snacks include fruit, cheese, and yogurt. We try our best to follow the MyPlate guidelines.

We started them eating and drinking right when they were young. That does not mean only eating healthy food. Our children get dessert with their meal, but the portion size is small. Once a week we have a ‘cheat meal,’ we order pizza or go out for dinner. The kids can order just about anything they want.

Play Well: A study from 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children from ages 8-18 spend an average of 7 ½ hours a day using entertainment media. That is more than 53 hours a week. We limit television to 2 hours per week. This allows us more time to play together. When it is nice outside, you can find us at a local playground, pool, or community event. Even in the winter we go to the mall and enjoy the indoor play areas. At home, we design obstacle courses for the kids to run through or just play in the yard, letting our imaginations take us anywhere.    

Healthy Mind Roman 12:2

Keep the mind active, always learning and growing.

Go Read: This is a great and easy way to keep our minds active. Everyone is our house reads or gets read to; the hard part sometimes is finding the stories that interest a person. My daughter loves to read, she will sit all day in read. My son, however, was not so inclined when he was younger. He was always on the move, never wanting to sit still long enough to read. My wife and I never gave up, reading a page or two at a time, choosing short books with four pages. Then we started reading longer books, extending how many the pages we read. While he still prefers to play, he will sit a read a story with us.   

We read often during the day, before naptime and quiet time, sometimes in the mornings, and always before bed. My kids even read or have us read, while they use the potty. If you don’t know which books to read, there are lists everywhere. I like the one from Scholastic and Amazon.

A fun way to get a child involved with reading is to take them to the library and allow them to choose books. This is a great, inexpensive, daddy date idea or a fun activity to get them out of the house on a dreary day.  

Go Play: Reading is not the only way to engage the mind, games, puzzles and art are great, too. Any activity that allows the child to think and problem solve have its benefits. This also includes playing games on a screen, but monitor and limit screen time. Our kids have a tablet that they play games on once a week for about 30 minutes. Most of the games are educational, some are just fun. Everyone needs to have a little fun, now and then.

Healthy Spirit 1 Chronicles 16:11

A healthy spirit heals mind and body.  

Intentional Prayer: There are many reasons to pray. I pray because I always feel better laying my praises and problems before God. My spirit feels renewed. Our children pray every night. They pray for people, situations and for strength in a new day. I do not know if they feel the same sense of renewal I feel after prayer, but I hope that someday they will.

Intentional Involvement: Look for ways you and your kids can help others in need. Volunteer in the community and ask your children to join. Find a passion that you and the children share and donate your time and talents. Our family gets together and bakes dozens of cookies a couple times a year and we give them to the local prison ministry. It is a fun way to do something as a family and to give.      

Intentional Rest: Stop. Take time to refresh the body and mind. Sleep is important for children, it helps develop their mind and body. Also find time to relax. I worry about kids who are always on the go, going from one place to the next, one activity to the next.  Make time to rest, your kids might not be as cranky.   

 

It takes constant work to get and stay healthy. Temptations are always lurking and it is easy to fall into bad habits. The entire family needs to make the commitment and support each other. As fathers, take the lead, set a good example and teach everyone the importance of living a healthy lifestyle is. It is not too late to start.

There are days I miss eating doughnuts, but I would rather sacrifice a dozen doughnuts to spend an extra dozen more days, years with my family.   

Guest Post on Get ConnectDAD

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John

John is a husband, father and teacher. His passion is to help fathers raise their children by sharing his own experiences while following a biblical worldview. Master Lego builder and tea party host. The greatest, most rewarding role a man can have is that of a father.

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