Keeping your family safe, healthy, and active wasn’t exactly a walk in the park before the coronavirus. Busy schedules make it hard to stay active. Energy-draining meetings make cooking dinner feel like climbing Everest. Now, you’re dealing with the effects of a global pandemic on top of everything else you had going on before COVID-19 hit. Fortunately, making healthier choices for your family doesn’t mean that you have to change everything overnight. Here, we share some easy changes that you can make to keep your family safe, healthy, and active during the coronavirus.
Simple ways to eat healthy
Between trying to cut down on in-person grocery runs and the currently-erratic nature of store shelves, it’s no surprise that families are finding it more challenging to eat healthy right now. Plus, after spending an entire day balancing work and childcare, you may not always feel like preparing a full, well-balanced meal—and that’s okay. Here are a few healthy-eating hacks you can turn to during COVID-19 and beyond:
- For a simple switch that won’t increase the time you spend in the kitchen, you can stock up on healthy snacks, such as nuts, string cheese, dried fruit, and baby carrots.
- Keep frozen or canned fruits and vegetables for days when you may not have the time or energy to clean and cut fresh produce.
- Before you shop, try to pick out a few processed foods that you can cut from your grocery list, such as pre-made desserts, ready-to-eat meals, and packaged snacks (they tend to be high in saturated fat, sugars, and salt).
When you do have the energy to cook, finding healthy recipes to make as a family is a great way to spend quality time together and break up the monotony of the day-to-day togetherness. During the pandemic, both amateur and professional chefs have been freely sharing some of their favorite recipes. If you’re looking for new meals to try, the New York Times keeps an updated page of easy recipes to cook while you’re self-quarantined. Most of the dishes are designed to use whatever you have in your pantry, and they are very substitution-friendly. If you’re looking for something a little more structured, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a sample two-week menu of balanced, affordable meals, including a pre-written grocery list to make things as easy as possible.
Get heart-pumping exercise
It may be harder to get exercise when you can’t go to the gym and your kids can’t play with their friends or go to public playgrounds, but it’s not impossible. It just requires putting a little more thought into how your family gets their physical activity. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), inactivity can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon and lung cancers. To help you stay healthy, the AHA recommends that adults get two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week. For kids between 6 and 17, the recommendation shoots up to one hour of exercise every day, although it doesn’t have to be all at once. Even little ones 5 and under should be given plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day.
Outdoor activities are an important source of exercise, but they don’t have to be elaborate to be fun. Try not to put pressure on yourself to come up with ultra-creative outdoor games to keep your children active and entertained, especially if you already have a full plate with work and homeschooling. Outdoor activities that allow for social distancing include:
- Jump rope
- Hula hooping
- Bike riding
- Sidewalk chalk (hopscotch, anyone?)
- Scavenger hunts
- Beanbag toss
On days when you need to stay indoors, you can watch online fitness videos together, such as this kid-friendly yoga adventure. You can also host room-cleaning competitions with mandatory dance-party breaks, or even allow some supervised bed-jumping from time to time. However you get your family moving, make sure to join in on the fun. Remember, your kids will take their cues from you, especially during the coronavirus. Seeing you enjoying physical activity can encourage them to move more, too.
Finding your family’s new groove
There’s no arguing that everybody’s daily routine has taken a hit, in one way or another. This change isn’t easy for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need regular, predictable routines to thrive. Before the pandemic, the school day provided a whole host of daily routines. Now, it’s up to you to create a schedule that gives you and your kids some balance (but not too much restriction) during this wildly unpredictable time. To help add structure to your child’s day, try to draw a clear line between school time and playtime. Some ways to do this include:
- Having “recess” at the same time every day
- Choosing a favorite song that can serve as your “school bell”
- Having your kids get dressed for school in the morning
- Scheduling a family lunchtime
- Talking a neighborhood walk together at the end of the day
Pro Tip: One of the most important routines for both children and adults is a regular sleep schedule. Having trouble sleeping during the pandemic? We put together 7 expert tips for getting more restful sleep.
Other ideas to help keep your healthy, happy, and active as everybody practices varying degrees of social distancing include:
- Making sure everyone in the household has “me” time
- Helping your kids have virtual play dates to stay connected with their friends
- Scheduling family video chats with relatives that you can’t see in person right now
- Encouraging your children to express themselves by giving them journals and art supplies
- Sharing household jobs and giving everyone something important to do (For example, you can let your kids help you make your grocery list, plan and cook meals, or garden.)
- Breaking out the board games and puzzles
- Finding books or audiobooks for each member of the family
Right now, many parents are feeling the added pressure of keeping their families safe from the coronavirus, on top of the normal job of keeping your family healthy and happy. If someone in your house needs to see a doctor, even for a well-child visit, you can get them the care they need without leaving your home. With the Solv app, booking a same day virtual visit is as easy as a few taps on your phone. Download today.