Updated: Apr 11
Good health begins at home. Your home is a haven for you and your family where you go for comfort, support and a reprieve from the pressures of the outside world. Yet in the whirlwind of daily life, it’s easy to let a few things slide when it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle at home.
There’s no time like the New Year to take stock of the areas where you can make small, but positive changes around the house. Tackling a few of the most common obstacles can help you ensure your home is a happy and healthy place for the whole family.
Build good nutritional habits
Kids are picky. And while every parent understands the importance of providing their children with a balanced, nutritious diet, getting them to eat it isn’t always easy. That’s why so many parents end up cooking two dinners – one for themselves and one the kids will actually eat.
The kids’ meal often ends up being a box of macaroni and cheese or another processed food that’s high in sodium and low in nutritional content. Now you’re spending more time in the kitchen and more money on groceries while feeding your kids a meal that isn’t exactly the healthiest option for a young, growing body.
Don’t worry. Your desire to cook just one meal for the whole family isn’t a lost cause. Research shows that a little persistence can go a long way when you’re trying to get kids to eat new foods. Variety is the key to good nutrition, or more specifically, a combination of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, fish, nuts and dairy.
According to research by Penn State Hershey Medical, starting very small can help make the idea of new foods a little easier to swallow. Start with just a single pea or just a small crumble of cheese. If your child eats it, follow up with a food they like. Slowly, you can increase the portion of the new food while phasing out follow-up.
Research also shows that it can be easier to introduce new foods by serving them alongside a dish you know your child will eat. Don’t be surprised if your child resists at first. Most young kids don’t accept a new food until it has been presented several times, which is where persistence comes into play. Experts suggest that parents keep introducing new foods because a child will try something around 15 times before coming around to actually liking the new food. If you’re still having a hard time, experts recommend scaling back snacks and drinks in the afternoon. The hungrier your kids are, the more likely they will be to eat something new.
Remember that building good nutritional habits won’t happen overnight. A daily multivitamin like Forever Kids® will help ensure your kids are getting the right nutrients, even on those days when it’s all but impossible to get them to eat their veggies.
Encourage an active lifestyle
A weekend bike ride or a hike can be a fun way to bring the family together and promote everyone's good heath
Kids are less active today than ever before and rates of childhood obesity are on the rise. Experts recommend that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day and children all over the world are missing that goal by a wide margin.
Physical activity is important for kids for so many reasons. Exercise improves fitness, builds strong muscles and bones and helps kids maintain a healthy weight. Getting in enough physical activity at a young age is also critical in reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Between television time, social media and schoolwork, kids today are spending upwards of 8 hours a day being sedentary. The first, and perhaps most important, step you should take in leading your kids to a more active lifestyle is to set strict limits on screen time. You may even want to consider setting parental controls on their mobile devices, if you haven’t already. Once the digital devices put away, it may be easier to motivate your kids to start being active.
Organized sports might provide the encouragement your kids need while combining exercise with important developmental lessons like teamwork and following rules. While sports are a great way to keep kids active, they may not provide the recommended hours of exercise kids need each week because a good portion of time is devoted to taking instruction or waiting for a turn.
Set a good example by making exercise a family activity. A weekend bike ride or a hike can be a fun way to bring the family together and promote everyone’s good health. A trip to the park is also an excellent option to provide kids with unstructured play that includes a wide range of movements like running, jumping, skipping, catching or throwing, to name just a few.
Find and eliminate the hidden dangers
You no doubt have the basics overed when it comes to home safety, but in virtually every household, there are hidden dangers that are all too easy to overlook. They tend to lurk under the sink in your kitchen, bathroom or garage.
Many household cleaners are made with potentially toxic ingredients that aren’t good for your health or the environment. The cleaners can leave residue on floors, countertops and other surfaces. This creates a risk of prolonged contact with kids’ skin, which could cause irritation or an allergic reaction or you could inadvertently contaminate food with harsh cleaning chemicals.
Instead of keeping an oversupply of varying cleaners for every task, consider replacing the majority of those cleaners with one bottle of an effective, safe, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly multipurpose cleaner like Aloe MPD® 2X Ultra. You’ll save cupboard space and cut down the risk of exposing your children to harmful chemicals.
Pest control is another area to keep your eye on. While pests can create a nuisance in the home, controlling them should be done without the use of harsh pesticides whenever possible. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the chemicals used in many pest control sprays and treatments can be toxic to young children and exposure during pregnancy can lead to complications and birth defects.
If you’re having an issue with pests, try blocking entry points before resorting to a pesticide spray. Use a caulking gun to fill in cracks where bugs like to sneak in, like between kitchen cabinets. Keeping the kitchen tidy and free of crumbs can also help keep the bugs away. If it’s still necessary to take more action, seek out non-toxic solutions or services and avoid using a “bug bomb” or broad-spraying pesticide.
A few additional pointers:
Make time to test
Test all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working correctly. This is also a good time to check and see if you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and in any other room where it might be needed, such as those with a fireplace or wood stove. Check the expiration date and charge gauge periodically to make sure your extinguisher will be effective if you ever need to use it.
Don’t ignore fluoride
Fluoride is present in toothpaste, mouthwash and municipal water supplies. While fluoride is essential for preventing cavities and promoting healthy teeth, many experts believe kids may be getting inadvertently overexposed. You can minimize the risk by alternating fluoride with non-fluoride toothpaste, for instance, a toothpaste with fluoride in the morning and a non-fluoride version like Forever Bright® toothgel before bed.
Create an emergency plan
Emergencies of all sizes can happen at any time, from prolonged power outages to flooding and fire. You should have a plan in place that will allow your family to respond quickly and keep everyone safe and comfortable. This should include exit routes and a kit that is full of supplies like a first aid kit, flashlight and clean drinkable water. Familiarize yourself with local and federal emergency alert systems and make sure you are signed up to be notified via text in the case of an emergency.
A few additional pointers: Forever Bright® Toothgel | SKU 028