Creating Healthy Habits as a Family

January 29, 2024, sierraharlan

Somehow, 2023 has come to an end. January is often a time of reflection, evaluation, and goal-setting. I recently decided to stay home long term rather than return to my job, and going down to a single income and often being responsible for caring for my baby has greatly impacted how I spend my time. At nine months postpartum, I finally feel much more like myself and am motivated to work on healthy habits, get back into my routine, and set new goals. My husband and I have been discussing how to include our daughter in our new habits this year.

Increase exercise

A mother holding a toddlers hand as they walk away down a muddy nature trail on a rainy day, wearing rubber boots and raincoats.

A few months ago, I found an article stating that parents who exercise routinely are more likely to have kids who also exercise. Exercise is so important for our well-being, and I hope that my daughter will enjoy being active and that we make this part of our family culture. At nine months, my daughter is already deciding what is important by watching me and has a natural drive to imitate what she sees. I want to build exercise into my lifestyle at home so I am not limited by my inability to go to a gym. To create a sustainable routine, I need to consider barriers (such as time) and think about why this goal is important to me. I also need to start this goal with the attitude that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If my goal is to walk four days a week for 30 minutes and I only go on two walks, this is better than one or no walks, and I can restart my goal the following week. If I keep missing my goal, this tells me that my plan isn’t working, and I will reevaluate and determine what isn’t working rather than giving up.

Spending time outside

cute 8 month old baby boy, wearing a funky fedora hat, sits looking at the camera out the side of his stroller while out for a walk in summer.

Intentionally spending more time outside is another goal for this year. One thing that my husband and I like about Benton County is the many parks and walking trails there. We found a list of local parks and natural areas on the City of Corvallis Parks and Rec page and plan on printing this off and visiting each location, checking them off as we go. I also want to create a pollinator garden this summer with plants that are native to the area. There are local garden-sharing groups on Facebook, and folks often offer the plants they are digging up or thinning out. I will watch for plants based on the list from this local resource. I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I work on projects like this. I learned a couple of years ago that you can get audiobooks on your phone from the library using the Libby app, and I love using this resource.

Decreasing time on my phone

Latina woman in her 30s taking care of her baby at home while working on her cell phoneUsing my phone less is another goal for this year. She would only nap on me or my husband for the first several months of my daughter’s life. I spent a lot of time scrolling on social media while I was nap-trapped to pass the time (and sometimes to keep myself from falling asleep while holding my baby). I didn’t like how I felt after looking at a screen for so long and didn’t like that I wasn’t fully present for this special time. I created some boundaries recently that helped me use my phone less, including leaving it in a different room, so it’s not an option, and deactivating my Instagram account, which is the main form of social media that I get sucked into. I am also trying to replace the time I might spend on my phone by accomplishing tasks or working on a hobby. A neighbor from my local Buy Nothing group kindly gifted me crochet hooks and yarn, a hobby I have wanted to try for some time. My daughter will grow up in a technology-saturated world, and I want to model healthy habits for her and have healthy boundaries in place for myself.

Social time

Children with mothers sit in a circle and study colors, numbers

Spending more time with friends and deepening existing connections is another goal for this year. By participating in local activities with my daughter, I’ve learned that babies are a great connection point and topic of conversation to get to know someone new! I can feel shy in new social settings, and setting the intention to talk with at least one or two new people helps me push past social awkwardness. Storytime is a great way to meet new parents. The schedule for Benton County story time can be found here, and the schedule for Linn County story time can be found here.

Set your intentions

Taking the time to set intentions and write down your goals (remember, back in high school, healthy and SMART goals) is so worthwhile. My husband and I have struggled to prioritize our health and well-being like we were able to before we had our daughter. We have spent a lot of time discussing how we can improve in these areas together as a family and how to incorporate our daughter into these lifestyle changes. As parents, we have the honor and responsibility to set our daughter up to have a healthy lifestyle. We are wishing all of our readers a healthy and happy new year!