I have been wanting to pass along a few of the simplest yet most important tricks I rely on with regard to my kids and their health for a while now. I am by no means “super mom” and only having two kids, I am a far cry from some of my friends who manage much bigger crews way more efficiently than I do. Still, the internet (not to mention friends, books, experts, etc.) is a wealth of knowledge on raising healthy kids, and I have tried SO many different suggestions. My motto as a mom has often been, try lots of different things and just see what “sticks.” Some of the following gems are related to food and others are more focused on mental health but ALL of them are ones that have stood the test of time. These are the ones that have stuck in our house.
- Water before special drink: This is hands down how I have been successful at getting my kids to drink plenty of water on a daily basis. We generally don’t even keep sodas or juice in the house but sometimes we have them around as a treat. In our house, before my kids can have one of these drinks, they are required to drink at least one of their large lidded cups full of water. They definitely should drink even more (and in the summer heat, I usually up the minimum) but this helps get them started and also instills the principle of how important it is to hydrate our bodies.
- Daily kids multivitamin containing a probiotic: Our culture is sadly lacking in food and drinks containing probiotics. Now, I know there has been a movement back toward this, but I will admit that my kids just don’t really like many probiotic foods. We do eat yogurt, and I will even make it homemade on occasion. I make water kefir and we have delved into making some homemade fermented pickles. Unfortunately, the small humans running around my house just don’t really like any of these foods. I believe that if you try long enough, they will eventually develop a taste for certain things but in the meantime, this (affiliate link) vitamin has saved my life (especially when we are traveling). You can also add a probiotic by itself, but we take daily vitamins and I find the all-in-one aspect convenient. Note: I am not a doctor so please do check with your own doctor before adding any supplements to your kids’ diets.
- Fruit for dessert: Ok, this one is pretty easy and an obvious way to get more healthy foods into your kids’ diet. But I had to mention it because it is a healthy living tactic I employ just about every day. From fresh berries to sliced cantaloupe, we have taught our kids that meals always include fruit for dessert. We do have special treats on occasion and there are nights we don’t have dessert at all. This keeps it special and also helps them understand that dessert is not something that is required to have along with meals.
- Common Sense Media (CSM): Ever since my kids reached the age of about three we have let them watch movies and tv on occasion. It has usually been easy to determine what is appropriate, but now that my oldest is in the second grade, I have found there to be much more of a gray area. This website helps so much. Now, we usually pre-watch anything we are at all concerned about, but checking titles and seeing how CSM rates them (as well as reviews from other parents) helps by giving us a starting point to know if we should even consider screening a certain movie or show for family movie night.
- Verbalizing events from the day: When I was a youth volunteer at our church a few years ago, we always started our Wednesday night activities by going around the room and telling our highs and lows from the week. After my oldest boy’s first day of Pre-K, my mommy heart sank when I asked him how his day was and his answer was “fine.” That very day, I started a tradition that we have continued for years. When we get in the car after school (or that night at dinner, if he is picked up or has to ride the bus), he has to tell me one high and one low from his day. Sometimes I also ask him to convey one thing he learned from the day but that has fallen off a bit as he has gotten older. And I usually share my daily highs and lows right along with him. Verbalizing the happy and sad parts of our day helps me to know what is going on in those little brains while also providing them with a safe outlet for joys and concerns.