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There’s no place like home for the holidays... until everyone comes down with the same bug and spends the next few days coughing and sniffling. Holiday parties, family gatherings and vacations are great, but they can also be exhausting and disrupt your regular routines. Returning to a consistent, daily routine is particularly important for children and teenagers because structure and discipline is essential in developing self-control and responsibility.
When you’re setting New Year’s resolutions this year, put maintaining you and your family’s health at the top of the list. There are many ways you can get your regular routine back on track and even implement new habits to make it better than ever! Try working the following strategies into your family’s regular, post-holiday routine.
The holidays are a time for indulgence, but if you’re like most people, you may have overindulged in fatty foods and sugar-loaded desserts for several weeks. From holiday parties to busy traveling, it is hard to find the time or energy to make regular family dinners during the winter months. Make a resolution to cook with the family more frequently. Not only is it cheaper, but homemade meals are healthier, too. There are many quick and easy recipes for healthy breakfasts! Start by designating 1-2 days per week to make a home-cooked meal in addition to what you may already prepare at home. To get the entire family on board, create a rotation in which different family members get to choose what's on each week’s meal plan. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins for the healthiest choices.
Washing your hands frequently is the best way to stop the spread of disease, but children aren’t always known for having the best hygiene. Make hand-washing a part of everyone’s before-meal and after-bathroom ritual. When setting routines for children, remember that they require frequent reminders and practice. Wash up together, or even make up a catchy rhyme to help them remember to wash their hands.
Sometimes we’re so caught up in the relentless “go, go, go” atmosphere of the holidays, we forget that they’re supposed to be fun. Once the hectic holiday pace has passed, schedule some family fun time. Winter weather in cooler climates (including those you visit on vacation!) may make us want to stay inside and cozy up by a fire, but it's helpful to schedule physical activities to keep your family healthy and stay in shape. Go ice skating together, take the dog for a walk, or get into a snowball fight. If it is too cold to go outside, you can always do yoga or other simple exercises indoors. Any family activities that get your muscles moving and allow you to bond together will help reduce stress levels and keep you healthier.
We often get so caught up in the holiday season or other life events that we forget to schedule important appointments. The New Year is a good reminder to set any doctor or dental appointments for yourself or your family that might have slipped your mind. Focusing on routine health visits now is a great way to prevent minor medical problems from becoming major hassles later on.
Children and teens thrive on rules and boundaries, and while they may try to break or bend them, they need external structure for important behavioral development. Young children in particular require specific schedules and tend to benefit the most when activities occur at the same time each day. If your routine has gotten off track over the holidays, try new scheduling ideas for children in the new year. For example, place a large whiteboard in your kitchen with distinct times and activities, and give your child check marks or stickers as rewards when they stay on track. With repetition, the new routine will become a natural part of your lifestyle.