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Resolve to be a stronger family in the new year
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Making resolutions together can bring a family closer and provide a support system for choosing healthier behaviors in the new year.
“Our society is fast-paced, and families are very stressed,” said Carla Stanford, Mississippi State University Extension Service child and family area agent in Pontotoc County. “A new year brings an opportunity to sit down with our loved ones and take an inventory of our unique strengths and challenges. What pulls you away from your family? What brings you together? Make a resolution to spend more time doing things that draw you closer and less time doing things that push you apart.”
Stanford said parents and children have choices to make when it comes to making the family bond strong.
“Everyone in the family has a lot of distractions,” she said. “TV, school, work, going out with friends, extracurricular activities, smartphones, household chores and responsibilities – all of these have their places. It’s a matter of finding balance and making family time a priority.”
Family time can be spent engaging in healthy activities that will help everyone meet the traditional New Year’s resolutions of eating healthier foods and getting more exercise.
Stanford said finding time to cook is often the biggest obstacle parents face in making healthier food choices.
“Everyone resolves to eat healthier, but we must find ways to be practical,” she said. “What foods will kids eat that are healthier? People have tight budgets and are in a hurry.
“On the weekend, cook and freeze several meals, and you’ll have quick and easy suppers to heat up at a fraction of the cost of dining out. Cook larger portions of meals and put half in the freezer for another night. Look for blogs and recipes online that feature slow-cooker meals, and let your supper cook while you’re at work.”
Getting more exercise does not have to involve an expensive gym membership or bulky exercise equipment, said Jennifer Russell, Extension child and family area agent in LeFlore County.
“A new year is a good time to try new things, such as dancing with the family at home, or taking the time to play together in a more active way, such as jumping rope or playing a family game of tag in the backyard,” Russell said. “Try to incorporate physical activities into normally sedentary times. For example, make commercial breaks exercise breaks with relays in the house or running in place, doing jumping jacks or other quick bursts of action. Or simply turn off the TV and find games that get everyone moving.”
Russell said exercise has both physical and emotional benefits.
“Some exercise is better than none, more is better than some and too much is difficult to get,” she said. “Healthier choices and new family traditions can increase happiness and fight wintertime blues. When thinking about New Year’s changes, create a vision for the future by picturing yourself and your family healthy and happy. Then decide what you need to do to make that vision a reality and go for it.”