Make time for family health

Published 9:15 pm Friday, December 5, 2008

Throughout the year, the Suffolk Family YMCA hosts an array of family events encouraging families to schedule time to spend with one another. If your nightly refrain is how tired you and the kids are, perhaps your family is struggling with how to balance work, school, and activities.

Here are some quick tips to help you schedule some quality time together:

Create a family night. The solution is simple and can create memories to last a lifetime. Whether it’s movie night, take-out night (think pizza or Chinese, for example), game night, or a family walk night, the key is that a night each week is designated for together time. Relax and talk with each other! You might be surprised at the things you learn from your kids on your special night.

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Each month, the Suffolk Family YMCA hosts game nights to encourage our members to schedule some family time. Join us Dec. 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for free pizza and games for Family Game Night.

Enjoy and interact with your child’s friends. Yes, really! Letting kids “hang out” at your place gives you valuable insight into what interests and motivates your own child and helps you understand the crowd he associates with. For younger kids, an hour or two with a friend can teach sharing, responsibility, taking turns and other traits through actual learning and experiences. And don’t forget that many child experts indicate that free time for play and social interaction can be better for a child’s development than too many organized or structured activities.

At the Suffolk Family YMCA, we encourage families to put play in their day. Child Watch, the Interactive Zone and our Teen Center are all great opportunities for your children to interact with friends.

Make exercise a priority for your family. Teaching children about the importance of exercise can be key to a healthier lifestyle for kids. The Suffolk Family YMCA encourages you to model healthy habits and make exercise a priority in your homes.

Physical activity can help everyone in the family feel healthier. Exercise can boost the energy level of your family, improve balance, coordination and flexibility, strengthen the heart, lungs, bones and muscles, burn the fat and calories you consume throughout the day, help you sleep better at night, reduce stress and depression and reduce the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Exercise also improves self-image.

Limit screen time to less than two hours per day (television, video games, computer). Meals should not be consumed in front of a screen. Make dinner together as a family. With a membership at the Suffolk Family YMCA, our free Y-Change program teaches families how to prepare nutritious meals. Try cooking something new. Mealtime is fun time for families.

Above all, keep family first! Keeping your priorities straight will ensure a happier, better-adjusted family.