Multipure’s Spotlight for April 2021 is “Family Wellness,” which means that this month, our blog posts and social media will focus on nutrition, hydration, and healthy habits for better family wellness and happiness. In this article, we focus on some of the actions, habits, and routines that can help families become healthier and happier.
What makes a family healthy and happy? Cooking and eating nutritious meals? Getting enough activity, physically and mentally? Getting along without arguments or disagreements? Making sure everyone is doing their part for the good of the household? Every family is different – different makeup, different dynamic, different circumstances. But despite every family’s unique situation, there are certain things all families can do to make themselves even just a little bit healthier and happier.
First, what are some traits of a healthy and happy family? Trust is one of the most important; spouses must trust each other to care for the family, and children must trust their parents to meet their needs and have their best interests at heart. Trust also allows for well-defined boundaries – rules and organization necessary to ensure the safety and security of each family member; for example, limits to how late children can stay up on a school night, or curfews for older children allowed to go out on their own for the night, or boundaries to ensure each family’s members privacy. When everyone trusts each other, rules and boundaries are also trusted.
Healthier families also have regular family rituals or traditions, such as regular family mealtimes, or with older children who may have their own schedules due to school or work, an established family night where everyone spends time together eating, or watching a movie, or playing games. Traditions and family time maintain the family connection and allow for more chances of communication.
The “Five Cs”
Speaking of communication, that is part of a set of healthy family habits that could be called the “Five Cs” of happy families: Commitment, Celebration, Communication, Caring, and Cuddling.
- Commitment refers to a dedication to family members, through good times and bad. Families that are committed to each other allow each member to serve as a “safe harbor” during troubled times – a place of peace, security, and love.
- Celebration means acknowledging each other’s accomplishments and successes, and celebrating each family member’s special events and occasions. Celebration means cheering at a family member’s sporting event, or attending and applauding for a drama production or arts recital. Celebration is the happy, supportive, and cheering side of commitment.
- Communication allows families to gain a better understanding of each other and what is happening in people’s lives. Communication allows for acknowledgment of success, support for failures, and the ability to discuss and resolve issues or tension among family members.
- Caring means loving and respecting each other. Caring is demonstrated through kind words, thoughtful actions, and emotional support. Caring means understanding each other to better demonstrate love and respect.
- Cuddling is simply a more physical aspect of caring. It means physical demonstrations of love and support – a hug here, a kiss there, a pat on the back, or a shoulder to cry on. Cuddling means using nonverbal ways to show love and affection among family members – even if teens tend to find it embarrassing.
Given some of the fundamentals to healthier, happier families, here are a list of general tips toward improving your family life:
- Share stories: Many parents have experienced asking their children how their school day went, only to receive an overly simplified response and brush-off, something like, “good” or “the usual” or “normal.” A tip to get your children to share a story of their day is to lead by example: share a story of how your day went first, to draw your children into a conversation.
- Eat together: Families that eat together tend to stay together. Family dinners are a time to connect and get a read on how everyone is doing and feeling. This works even better if the children help cook dinner. Eating together allows you to set a good example, by showing how to eat healthier and eat in moderation, and to demonstrate a preference for clean, healthy drinking water over sugary soft drinks.
- Play together: Show your children that you care about spending time with them. Read a story to them, play boardgames together, go hiking, or do some other fun activity as a family.
- Be an example: Encourage your family to eat healthier by eating healthier, yourself. Encourage your family to exercise more by exercising. Encourage cleanliness and organization by showing them how you clean and organize things around the house. All of this works better if you can get family members to join you while setting a good example.
- Learn from others: This is the flipside to setting a good example – learning from others’ good examples. Everyone in the family can contribute something; it’s simply a matter of being aware of and learning from their examples.
- Establish a schedule or routine: Structure and organization can help foster a good routine for the family – when to get up and get ready for the day, when to do homework, when to play, when to eat, and when to get ready for bed. It doesn’t have to be strictly regimented, but it should be as consistent as possible so that the family knows what is expected at what times.
- Shop for groceries together: A good step toward teaching healthier eating habits for the family is by showing them how to shop for healthier foods. Teach your children how to read nutrition labels, how to find the foods you need at the supermarket, and what foods to look for or avoid – for example, teach them how to find the freshest or ripest fruits and vegetables, and teach them to avoid overly sugary drinks. We may be slightly biased, but we also find value in teaching children to avoid expensive bottled water in favor of filtered water. These are valuable lessons that will help them throughout their lives.
- Strike a balance between children time and parental time: While children will always be a priority within a healthy family, parents should avoid devoting all their time and energy to their kids at the expense of time with each other. Parents need time together to keep their spark alive – to show each other affection, and to remind themselves of the love that brought them together in the first place.
- Don’t overdo it with activities: Extracurricular activities can be fun and rewarding for children, but not if it is at the expense of their physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing. After-school activities can be a good way for children to make friends and find expand their interests, but too many activities can be overly stressful for both kids and parents.
- Don’t fight in front of the children: Almost all couples will experience some moments of disagreement or strife; the key is to not argue or fight in front of the children, and not to let anything escalate out of control. If the kids do catch an argument between you and your spouse, apologize and explain that disagreements are natural, even among people who love each other.
- Don’t let work overshadow family: Spending too much time working – at the expense of time with family – sends a message to the family that their time is not as important to you as your time at work. Children may feel insecure – that they are not valuable enough to you.
- Be flexible: Families grow and change – children grow up and move out, or move away; they get married, or have kids of their own; they experience setbacks, and move back in. The key is to remember that regardless of what changes occur in life, they are still family, they are still loved, and they still have a place in your home.
This is far from a comprehensive list of tips and advice for families, but hopefully, this will give you some ideas on how to foster and maintain a healthier, happier family and home life. Health and happiness starts at the home, and everyone can do that little bit to make that happen.
- Baumgardner, Julie. “10 Things Healthy, Happy Families Do.” First Things First. October 15, 2018. https://firstthings.org/10-things-healthy-happy-families-do/
- Hartwell-Walker, Marie. “5 Habits of Happy Families.” PsychCentral. May 17, 2016. https://psychcentral.com/lib/5-habits-of-happy-families
- Mann, Denise. “15 Secrets of Happy Families.” Grow by WebMD. Last accessed April 6, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/15-secrets-to-have-a-happy-family#1
- Felts, Susannah. “Secrets of Happy, Healthy Families.” Parents. October 6, 2013. https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/secrets-of-happy-healthy-families/