This article was initially published in the Whole Kids Foundation Blog of March 2021.
Life is full of unpredictable events, most of which we have no control over. However, the year 2020 will be forever remembered as the one that forced a world to stop in its tracks and alter every aspect of life that was considered normal, familiar, planned, and even mandatory. It challenged everyone, even the most inspiring optimist, to find comfort and stability.
As the long days turn into long months during this Covid-19 pandemic, it continues to radically change the way we live, work, learn, socialize, and the way we take care of our loved ones. Above all, the most important factor that this pandemic has highlighted is our health which happens to be the one thing we DO have control over. With all the anxieties, fears, and stresses, we are grasping at everything that brings us comfort, relief, and happiness. Self-care is not selfish, it is mandatory. Now that we are one year in, the dependency on technology has taken its toll and the desire to find easy ways to unplug is even more in demand. The quarantine trends of baking bread, learning a musical instrument, or hosting drive-by parties are all great ways to unplug for one’s mental health. However, taking care of our physical health requires a little more creativity.
At Wellness in the Schools, we bring food & fitness programming into the classroom. Our short-term goal is to teach healthy habits to live and learn better. Our long-term bold mission is to end childhood obesity. In order for our programming to have a lasting impact, ideally the habits we teach continue at home. Fortunately, the Covid silver lining for WITS is that we have been able to do just that. Our WITS Chefs and Coaches have been able to stream live lessons into the bedrooms, kitchens, and/or family rooms of our students.
We’ve curated a list of fun ideas for parents and teachers to use at home with their families:
OUR TOP 4 MEALTIME TRADITIONS:
- Have each member of the household rotate nights of the week and cook for each other, then give ratings on yumminess, healthiness, and presentation! If some are too young to cook, partner up in teams. Tally the scores at the end of the week for a prize – fruit dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut anyone?
- Want dessert? That’s ok, take a poll and make rules around how much is too much. For example, 3 dessert nights/week and urge homemade and/or fresh fruits. If you have teens at home, you know teens like being part of the decision-making process, and having them choose usually leads to a successful outcome. You can also hold “healthy competitions” for who can make the most delicious cookie that is filled with healthy and yummy ingredients!
- If the tradition of cooking for each other is a success, start keeping track of all the highest rated recipes made from each family member and create your own cookbook! This is a wonderful tradition as well as something to use again when you want to recreate the dish together – or to share among friends.
- What better way to clean up after dinner than with a dance party? Turn on your favorite music, create an assembly line, and dance while you clean. If the kids are too young, give them a little area to “clean” while you clean and the happiness of the dancing will keep them included. A great way to get moving, laughing, with the reward of a clean kitchen.
OUR TOP 4 FITNESS-FUN TRADITIONS:
- Obstacle courses! This can be modified to be perfect for any household. Let the kids lead for optimum success. The course can be set up inside or outside. One leader designs the course and the whole family has to complete it. Each course usually consists of 5 obstacles. It can include everything from crawling under chairs to hopping over a row of pillows. Depending on the athleticism of your household, the obstacles can be at any level of ease or difficulty, as long as it gets everyone moving. Have everyone do the course once, clock each run, then have each person do it again trying to beat his/her last time. Want to challenge teamwork? Partner up!
- Take a daily walk, with a twist. Many kids find walks boring. So jazz it up and make it a game. Bring the dog, if you have. Bring a football and play catch while walking. Or, end the walk with family competition (football, wiffle ball) – adults against the kids!
- Turn chores into a game. Instead of saying “I have to do something”, try switching your perspective to “I get to do something.” Just this slight word change can change the amount of energy you bring to the task. If you said, “I get to do laundry today”, it sounds exciting, right? For example, when putting away your laundry, grab a partner and make it a relay! Maybe open up your sock drawer and see how many balled up socks you can make it in your drawer from 6 feet away. Get creative with your chores and you will find you and your family genuinely saying, ”I get to do chores today!”
- Get outside in nature. Of course, respecting social distancing, find a peaceful spot outside. Enjoy the air. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect time to bring the healthy habit of meditation into your day. An easy way to start is to go outside, find a tree, and have a seat. Focus on just one leaf on the tree, watch it blow in the wind, and intently listen to hear the noise of that one leaf blowing in the wind. This will help the start of blocking out all other noise in that one moment.
From our team to yours, stay present, safe, healthy, and have fun!