I love my job. I just came from a meeting where there was wonderful discussion on what the needs are in the community, and how do we address them. While I’m sure that everyone in the room may focus on something different, one of my take away thoughts was “what does healthy look like?”
As you travel to the next ball game or have dinner tonight, ask your family members, “What does healthy look like in our home?” I’d love to hear from you with the responses. It seems that we’ve become so focused on the challenges we face that we may not spend time on the things that we can do both personally and as a family to be healthy. Physical, mental, spiritual and emotional areas are components of personal health and may also align with health in the family, the worksite and the community.
While finding a balanced life is a personal journey, there are common topics that are important in the foundation. A balance of work and family, a balance of healthy, nutritious food and activity, and setting a budget to spend and save each month. Finding a balance can be stressful, especially if you are trying to balance everything all at once! It takes time, and there seems to be less and less time in the day as we seek to balance work and family.
As noted in the OhioLine factsheet, “Working Parents: Finding a Balance”, jobs have changed over the past twenty years. They consume more energy, are more unpredictable, and require longer hours. The factsheet sites an in-depth research study comparing jobs in the 1960’s to those in the late 1990’s. At that time, the average worker spent about six extra 40-hour weeks per year on the job. It is safe to say that these demands have increased even more so in the past decade. These increased demands have made managing work and family more difficult for everyone.
This naturally leads to the question, “What is a family to do?” While it may be difficult to “leave work at work”, families have developed different methods to make the most of limited time together. Here are a few tips that my co-workers and myself put together. See if these ideas work for your family as well!
- Establish a weekly family time. Try to hold this time as a quality time in which the family does something everyone can be involved in and enjoy. Try to make it an active, healthy time. It doesn’t have to be an expensive outing (remember, we want to spend smart!). Some of our best times together have been planting seeds, going on bike or horse rides, swinging in the back yard, visiting one of the parks, painting, dancing to silly songs, or if need be, doing some work together like grocery shopping or doing dishes.
- Aim to eat several family meals together every week. Whether those meals are at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and regardless of the day of the week, sit down and spend time talking about what is going on in each other’s lives while eating healthy foods. As children are able they can help or actually prepare the meal. It’s a great time for conversation.
- If you have children, particularly young children, dedicate a few moments with each child each night. Many years ago our youngest daughter, calls this our “rocking and reading time”. She loved this time together because it is time that I spend with just her. She picked out a book to read and when we were done reading and talking about the book, she would tell me about her day. Then she would ask, “Mommy, how was your day today?”
- As children age, they still need that one to one time and as parents we go from enforcing the rules to coach and encourager. Use the opportunities they give us to be involved in their lives and activities…..the dishes and dust bunnies will wait. If they want you to go with them, go. If they want to talk, talk. If the opportunities are there to spend time with them, take advantage of them. Building relationships now, will be so important during the challenges they face in the future.
- Whatever time you spend together, make family time positive. Sometimes adults have bad days and sometimes kids do too. Talk together about how to cope with stress and bad days, use those as a teaching opportunity. Remember you are modeling how they will respond by what you say and do.
With the summer months ahead I found this resource from National 4-H, An activity guide that you might take some ideas from https://4-h.org/inspire-kids-to-do/. This summer make it a goal to be healthy and happy!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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