This time of year, many people are striving to achieve, or remember, their New Year’s resolutions. Many of us set goals to take better care of ourselves and spend more time with those we love. Even with the best intentions these goals can be difficult to juggle with busy schedules and more immediate priorities. In fact, one in every three Americans have abandoned their resolution by the end of January.1 While this statistic may be discouraging, there are strategies you can use to make your resolutions both purposeful and attainable.
Be accountable. Choosing a goal that makes you responsible for others may increase your motivation. In particular, fathers can aim to spend more time with family and become positive influences for their children. In so doing, successfully completing a resolution has a direct impact.
Be clear. Explicit resolutions are 10 times more likely to be achieved than abstract goals.1 For example, instead of making a resolution to “get fit,” commit to “exercise 3 times per week.”
Nevertheless, how do you choose a resolution that is explicit and has a positive impact on you and your family? The NRFC’s research brief, Healthy Fathers, Healthy Families, offers some great tips to keep you accountable and goal-oriented. There are practical ways to improve health for you and your loved ones. The brief includes activities that not only develop healthy routines, but bring you closer to your children.
Healthy Eating Habits
To help your family eat better, create time for everyone to eat together. Family dinners often result in fewer junk foods, healthier portions, and more fruits and vegetables. Having meals together not only allows parents to model healthy eating habits for their children, but family members have more time to connect and interact regularly. The research brief includes several resources for preparing home meals on a budget.
Many New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related, and the research brief provides many concrete ways for fathers to engage in physical activity with their children. Household play, both indoors and outdoors, positively impacts relationships and weight loss. Fathers that do not live with their children can still take advantage of locations such as churches, recreation centers, or parks.
While not a common resolution, providing a comfortable sleeping arrangement can be very beneficial to your family’s health. Children need between nine and 12 hours of sleep, which is more possible with proper lighting, temperature, and space. Once again, modeling good sleeping patterns for your kids has a significant impact on their own habits. The research brief mentions three specific actions parents can take to build healthier sleep habits: set screen times; set a bedtime routine; and reduce household noise at night.
Fathers’ Health and the Affordable Care Act
For parents looking for tangible actions to kick-off 2016, signing up for health insurance coverage is a great first step. Most plans include free preventative measures, such as physicals, diet counseling, and obesity screening. Similar to eating and sleeping habits and physical activity, getting health insurance benefits both parents and their children.
Of course, building healthy habits takes time and commitment. These activities are not always easy, so it may be best to start off with one or two simple goals, like signing up for health insurance. It is a great way to protect you and your children against large heath care costs, and you can do it through www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage. When a busy schedule conflicts with your resolutions and commitments, having health coverage can make you feel more comfortable.
This year keep up the good work! Eat well, move around, and get some sleep! You and your children will benefit. Looking to stay focused, or encourage others to keep their resolutions to themselves and their families? Share your comments with us on Facebook.
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse