The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health, held the first World Health Assembly in the year 1948. It was then decided that April 7 every year would be celebrated as World Health Day, a day to spread global awareness on issues of health the world over.
It is never too early to start inculcating healthy habits in children. Right from their toddler years, kids need to learn basic healthy habits – such as washing their hands thoroughly before every meal, having a shower daily, keeping their nails clean and the like. The best way to do it? Parents that lead by example. One must remember that happy, healthy parents make happy, healthy children. And as habits die hard, what the kids learn at a young age will hopefully stay with them all through their adult lives, doing them good in the long run.
This World Health Day, here are three simple ways we can help our kids lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Get up, get out, get moving.
Once a couch potato, always a couch potato. My kids are like that too – give them a choice between staying indoors and playing their favorite virtual games on the tablet or going outdoors to play tag with the neighborhood kids and more often than not, they’ll end up choosing the former over the latter. But the rule at home is that every evening, at least one hour is to be spent outdoors at all costs. So come what may, they find their ‘evil’ mom shooing them out of the house every single evening – barring the days when it is pouring outside (not surprisingly, those are the days they themselves want to get wet and muddy outdoors!). Dancing, walking, ball games, jumping a rope, running, hiking, swimming, roller blading, bike riding – the list is endless. One just needs to find where a kid’s interest lies and then there’s no looking back. Nothing beats the glow on the face after a good, tiring game of even simply chasing each other.
Good night, sleep tight. Wake up bright, in the morning light.
A majority of the kids I know (including, of course, my own) absolutely detest anything to do with bed. Kids between the ages of 5 and 12 need at least 10 hours of sleep every night, so the researchers say. But tucking in kids early so that they wake up fresh and nicely rested is easier said than done (I’m sure most of the parents reading this will be vigorously nodding their heads in approval). It is best to set regular sleeping and waking up times for individuals of the family, which is followed (as far as possible) even on weekends. Consistent bedtime routines also help in setting up an atmosphere of bedtime. Ours is the simple tried-and-tested bath and story time ritual. Earlier me or their dad used to read out stories to the two kids when they were snugly in their beds, but now our daughter takes the initiative and begins reading out loud, while one of us parents take it up once the first story is done. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton is my son’s latest favorite bedtime book.
Dinnertime is family time.
Okay, so probably the only scientifically ‘healthy’ aspect of eating the main meal of the day together as a family is that kids would probably tend to eat less of junk food and more of healthy stuff, so as to say. But the main motive of eating together is spending quality family bonding time. Of course, there are bound to be tiffs every now and then, but then that’s part and parcel of the process. From trying out and experimenting with new foods together to de-stressing and having a few hearty laughs can be therapeutic after a long day at work. You get to know what’s going on in your kids’ lives, they get to know how your day went; it works both ways. What’s more, researchers on the subject have this to say: ‘Sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members.’ So there. And if you haven’t already heard about something called The Family Dinner Project, do read more about it here.
Paul Walker made this gem of a quote once: “You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae.”
Stay happy, stay healthy!