Want to become healthier as a family? Check out these fun family activities that build healthy habits!
You’ve decided it’s time!
You want to start some new healthy habits and you want the whole family in on the action. Sounds great and all, but we both know that getting kids on board can be a struggle.
When we’ve got to nag them to pick up their clothes, brush their teeth and at least taste their dinner before refusing to eat it, sometimes the last thing you want to do is add more things to make them do.
But luckily, learning new habits as a family doesn’t have to be a battle! I’ve put together a list of 10 family activities that build healthy habits that your kids will actually enjoy.
Let’s dive in!
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Why Family Activities Are so Important
Before we dive into our list of family activities that build healthy habits, let’s take a quick minute to talk about why doing things as a family is so important.
You could totally sign your kids up for a program somewhere or get them a book from the library to teach healthy habits, but don’t underestimate the impact of doing things as a family.
Not only are they going to be far more likely to get on board, but it’s going to have a longer-lasting impact on how they behave as adults.
Plus, when you do things as a family, it helps your kids feel closer to you and builds a stronger bond. It also helps them feel like what you’re doing is important, not just something they have to do because you said so.
Let’s talk about some other reasons adopting healthy habits as a family is so effective.
You’re the example
The first reason you should focus on family activities is that, as the parent, you’re the example. They will follow your lead, for better or for worse. If you’re constantly eating junk food and sitting on the couch, they’ll think that’s normal behavior.
But if you’re making an effort to be healthy and active, they’ll learn that those habits are important and they’ll be more likely to adopt them as well.
Plus, when you make a change as a family, it’s less likely that your kids will feel like they’re being singled out or treated differently, which can make them resistant to change.
Children learn best through experiences and play
The second reason you should focus on family activities to build healthy habits is that that’s how children learn best.
They learn through experience and play, not by being lectured at or having things explained to them.
So, if you want your kids to really learn and adopt new habits, the best way to do it is through fun activities that they enjoy.
What they learn now, they’ll take into adulthood
The last reason focusing on family activities is a great way to teach healthy habits is that whatever they learn now, they’ll take with them into adulthood.
As adults, we tend to continue or mimic a lot of the habits that we experienced as kids. So what you make a priority in the lives of your kids will be what they make a priority in their lives as adults.
That’s why it’s important to set them up with a good foundation while they’re still young.
10 Fun Family Activities That Build Healthy Habits
Now that we’ve talked about why family activities are so important for building healthy habits, let’s get into our list of 10 fun family activities that will do just that!
1.) Eat at least 1 meal together as a family
Eating a meal together as a family is first on our list of family activities that build healthy habits. When you eat together as a family, you demonstrate good eating habits and behaviors.
This is the time when you can demonstrate eating from all 5 food groups. As your children see you eating fruits and vegetables, they are going to slowly start doing so as well.
This is also a great time to teach your children how to eat when they are hungry and how to stop eating when they are full. Overeating is the number one reason people become overweight.
If we can teach our children from an early age how to eat only what their bodies need, they will have a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight as they get older.
Tips for a family meal together:
- Pick any meal that all of the family can be present for. It doesn’t have to be dinner. Breakfast or lunch works well too.
- Try to make sure everyone is eating the same foods. If they don’t see you eating healthy foods, they aren’t going to want to eat them either.
- Put away electronic distractions such as phones, TV, and tablets.
- Discuss topics that are interesting and engaging for everyone at the table, including the kids.
2.) Learn about nutrition
Another great family activity is to talk about healthy foods and where they come from. This is a great way to reinforce those healthy eating habits.
Children need to know not just that we should eat healthy foods, but why we should eat them. They also need to know what actually makes food healthy in the first place.
Many children today are only exposed to food at the grocery store or at restaurants. This means they are completely unfamiliar with where food comes from and how it’s made.
Learning about how our food is made and where it comes from is a huge part of understanding what healthy food is and why it’s good for our bodies.
If you don’t know much about this topic yourself, you can still talk about it together. When your children see you learning about healthy food with them, they are going to be even more interested and excited about it.
Tips for learning/teaching about healthy foods:
- Visit a local farm.
- Watch a documentary about food production.
- Practice reading nutrition labels at the grocery store.
- Play a game of finding which food groups are represented at each meal.
3.) Grow your own food
Another great family activity that helps teach your children about healthy eating habits and nutrition is planting a garden. Your kids will love the experience of growing their own food and they’ll learn a lot in the process.
This is a great opportunity to teach your children where food comes from and how it’s grown. They’ll also learn about the different types of foods that we eat and how to take care of plants.
This activity is also great for getting some family bonding time in while you’re working together in the garden. And, it’s a great way to teach responsibility too!
Tips for growing your own food:
- Start small with a few easy-to-grow plants.
- Plant a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage your kids to help with the gardening tasks.
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4.) Exercise together
Next on the list of family activities that build healthy habits is exercising together. This could be anything from working out together or having a family sport.
Exercising as a family helps to teach your kids about exercise and fitness. It’s a chance to bond with your children while helping them learn the value of keeping your body fit and healthy.
When we exercise with our children, we help make fitness a fun and engaging experience. We also teach them about community, good sportsmanship, respect, perseverance, and more.
Tips for exercising with kids:
- Find an activity that everyone can do and enjoys.
- Make it a family event by inviting extended family or friends to join in too.
- Encourage each other and have fun!
5.) Read together
By far my family’s favorite activity we do together is reading. Reading together with your family is a great way to help instill a love of reading.
When our children learn to read and read well, it is so beneficial to every aspect of their academic life. When they become adults, reading has been shown to reduce stress levels, alleviate anxiety, increase life expectancy, and improve overall health and happiness.
You can read more about the health benefits of reading at mission.org.
It’s not as important what we read to our children, but more the attitude and environment we create around reading. If we show them the value and enjoyment that can be found in it, they will carry that with them into adulthood.
Tips for reading as a family:
- Read to your kids before bed.
- Let them read aloud to you.
- Listen to audiobooks together.
- Make family trips to the library.
6.) Cook together
Next on the list of family activities that build healthy habits is cooking together. Children become a lot more comfortable and confident in the food they eat when they have a hand in making it.
My kids are always waaay more willing to try new foods when they helped cook them.
Cooking is also an important life skill for when they become adults. Especially if we want our children to be able to cook nutritious meals when they are out on their own.
Cooking with your kids requires a little bit more patience, but the rewards are totally worth it.
Tips for cooking as a family:
- Be patient and expect a little extra mess.
- Be very clear and explicit with your instructions.
- Let your children help pick the recipes.
- Start with recipes you know they will eat.
- If you don’t know how to cook well yourself, learn together!
7.) Get outside
Another great family activity that builds healthy habits is getting outdoors. This is a great way to get some family bonding time while getting some fresh air and exercise.
There are so many benefits to being outdoors, such as reducing stress levels, improving moods, and increasing energy levels. Being outdoors is also great for our physical health, as it helps us get vitamin D from the sun and breathe in the fresh air.
It also becomes a great opportunity to learn about science, nature, and the world around us.
There are endless possibilities for family activities outside. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Go for a family hike.
- Have a family picnic.
- Visit a local park.
- Plant a family garden.
8.) Celebrate family wins
Next on the list of family activities that build healthy habits is celebrating family wins. This means making a point to regularly notice and talk about the positive things that are going on in each other’s lives.
It could be something that is casually mentioned when they come up, or you could have a set time to sit down and talk about it once a day or once a week.
This is a great way to build family bonds and create positive reinforcement. It also helps children learn how to cope with setbacks because they will see that their family is there to support them through the good and the bad times.
Tips for celebrating family wins:
- Make a big deal out of small wins.
- Be specific about what you are celebrating.
- Express your pride and joy.
- Encourage family members to brag about their accomplishments.
- Share good news with extended family members and make sure your kids know you’re doing it.
9.) Show gratitude
Another really important family activity that builds healthy habits is showing gratitude. Taking time as a family to share things that you’re grateful for can have a lasting impact on your kids.
It helps them understand the importance of being thankful, and it also creates a more positive family environment. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most important thing is to make sure that it is genuine and heartfelt.
Tips for showing gratitude as a family:
- Make a family gratitude journal.
- Write thank you notes to family members, friends, or anyone else who has made a positive impact on your life.
- Take time to write down things you’re grateful for at the end of each day.
- Make a family “gratitude tree” to hang up in your house.
Last on our list of family activities that build healthy habits is to volunteer. This is a great way to give back to your community and help others while also teaching your children the importance of helping those in need.
There are so many different ways to volunteer, so you can find something that fits with your family’s interests and schedule. You can make it a regular family activity or do it on a more occasional basis.
Here are a few ideas for family volunteering:
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food bank.
- Help out at a local animal shelter.
- Collect donations for a clothing drive.
- Do yard work or household chores for elderly neighbors or family members.
Conclusion to 10 Fun Family Activities That Build Healthy Habits
I hope this list of family activities that build healthy habits gave you a few ideas for your own family. By incorporating these activities into your family’s life, you can help instill important values in your children that will last a lifetime.
What are your favorite family activities that build healthy habits? Tell us in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Pinterest for more homeschool and parenting advice.
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Candice is a mom of 3 who has been homeschooling since 2013. She has an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Studies and cares deeply about helping other parents get the information and resources they need to help them homeschool their children with confidence.