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Building healthy families starts at home
July 1st, 2012
It is no secret that families today are busy and our time together feels limited. But that does not diminish a parent’s wish for their children and family to be healthy.
As a two-parent working family, my husband and I look for ways to keep our family healthy, happy, and together. With a chef in the family, healthy eating is a priority for us — we know it is important to eat together and we make every effort to cook together.
We have a vegetable and herb garden that our three-year-old and 15-month-old love to help tend. We have them help us with the garden, go grocery shopping together and look for meals that we can create together. Even just grating the parmesan for our pasta gets my three-year-old excited for a family dinner.
My family, like a lot of families, isn’t home together every night for dinner, so Sunday breakfast is a big deal in our house. Cooking breakfast is among the easiest — and most fun — meals a family can create together.
When we can be together for dinner, we eat together at the kitchen table, not in front of the TV. An IPhone may be playing music in the background but it’s important that we all unplug during family meals.
No iPad games or movies for the kids and equally important, no texting or emailing by mom or dad. Our behavior demonstrates to our children what is acceptable, and we can’t expect them to put the phone away if we won’t do it ourselves.
To stay healthy we look for ways to be active as a family, and with summer finally here, this is a lot easier. The kids may be in camp all day and come home tired but instead of turning on the TV while we cook dinner, we head back outside and let the kids run through the sprinkler while we fire up the grill.
As active JCC members, it’s just as convenient to drive up to the JCC Water Park after work and enjoy the pool with friends. Another favorite activity of ours and of the kids is to put everyone in their pajamas and take a walk together before bed.
Again, I strongly believe that our children learn much better from our actions rather than our words. My husband and I stay physically active to feel good about ourselves, and to show our children the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
While my boys don’t watch me work out during the week, my entire family was on the sidelines this past May to cheer me on as I competed in the JCC’s indoor triathlon. Not only was I proud to finish, but my children love to wear my medal almost as much as I do.
It’s easy to feel guilty about taking time for yourself when that is time you could be spending with your family. I know how true this is when your children are young and you feel like there is just never enough family time.
But making the time to feel better about yourself is an important part of being a good parent. By eating well and staying active, we feel healthy and, in turn, are happier.
For our busy family, time spent together is about quality, not quantity. Summer in Milwaukee offers no shortage of quality family time options and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Activities we love include exploring the many beaches and wonderful parks around the city. Fox Brook Park in Brookfield and Klode Park in Whitefish Bay are among are favorite.
And you can listen to great music at Chill on the Hill in Bay View, as well as at the festivals all summer long. We love to show our kids their city and all the amazing activities within it.
Sometimes, a destination isn’t as important as simply being together. We love to spend Sundays with extended family and friends.
Having my children spend as much time as they can with their grandparents and having friends over for dinner shows them that they are part of a larger community and that our family is healthier together.
Sarah Ruiz is director of family and children’s programming at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.