In my professional life, I’m a greenkeeper for North American operations at my company, Method. I manage our sustainability efforts, which means it falls on my team to ensure, maintain, and exceed high standards for our planet-friendly products.
As a father of four, I bring those standards home with me at the end of the day. I’m a sort of greenkeeper for my family, and my wife and I establish routines and norms for them by setting a steady example of how to lead healthy lifestyles.
Whether it’s household products, exercise habits, or nutritional choices, know this: Kids need to see early on that healthy choices start at home and should be carried with them everywhere else.
Painting a Healthy Picture at Home
Ideally, parents like to leave the stress of the workday at their front door. The minute we get home, all the focus should be on being an involved, contributing member of the household.
But because of my day job, I’m able to bring my work home with me, which isn’t such a bad thing when the focus is on wellness and responsibility. In our house, our mindfulness materializes in three areas: what goes in us, what goes on us, and what goes on around us.
Nutritious meals are balanced and consist of whole foods the entire family has a hand in preparing. We might sneak some OCHO organic chocolate into our rotation every now and then, but we try to limit our family’s diet to healthy, well-balanced ingredients.
Everyone in the house uses the same hygiene products — soap, shampoos, and other personal care items — that we make sure are absent of any dirty ingredients. We don’t invest in child-specific products; our kids use the same responsibly packaged, safely made shampoo and conditioners we use.
We maintain common areas, bathrooms, bedrooms, and the kitchen in our home with clean, safe products. Whether it’s the dish detergent we use to clean plates and utensils or the surface sanitizer we use to clean our counters, I rest easy knowing the cleaning products we use are responsibly made.
Show Them How to Put It All Together
The best of intentions are all well and good, but they mean nothing without the habits and routines needed to attain them.
Here are three things I keep in mind when impressing a healthy lifestyle upon my kids:
1. Do as I do.
From the time a child can emulate or retain information, parents are the models they try to ape the most. From the things we say to the way we compose ourselves and the products we buy, we’re their first examples.
Recognize this responsibility and the importance of every move you make. A healthy lifestyle is more than what we eat and use in our house — it means maintaining a clutter-free, organized home. I’m famous in our home for locking a backpack in the garage if it’s not hanging in the correct place.
Emphasize the importance of these habits and practice what you preach. It’s a surefire way to make something stick.
2. Show the big picture.
“Because I said so” should never be an acceptable answer when kids ask why they have to do something. If an action is going to benefit the child, don’t rely on the tired saying and expect it to do any good.
When you’re preparing a meal and avoiding ingredients that aren’t nutritious, explain that to them and provide supporting evidence. On the flip side, try to showcase a food’s nutritional value if they’re resisting something that’s good for them.
That’s one of the perks of involving my kids in food preparation and the other aspects of maintaining a healthy home. If they can be part of the process and see the value for themselves, they’re more likely to take the lesson with them.
3. Hold them accountable.
When it comes to the purity of our products, I’m on the hook to make sure they stay as consistent as they were the day we started making them; I have to ensure our quality never dips.
Parents should consider themselves a barometer for their kids when it comes to healthy habits. Establish your own standards, and see to it that your children hold up their end of the bargain by maintaining those values.
Encouraging your kids to focus on health and wellness will help them see results, which can ultimately lead them to take ownership of these routines. Once they take responsibility for a chore or routine, you can tell that particular routine is taking hold.
A father’s role in encouraging healthy living can’t be understated. As one of the biggest influences in your child’s life, understand the part you play in establishing healthy surroundings and habits. The lessons you teach your children when they’re young will resonate with them for countless years to come.
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