A happy, healthy family doesn’t happen by accident. Like most good things in life, balanced family living takes a little work. With three adorable daughters, Bela, Reece and Brody, two fascinating careers and one thriving marriage, we knew this month’s guest editors would have a few insights to offer on the subject. We asked Gabby and Laird to fill us in on a few of the habits that keep their sweet brood healthy, happy, sane and in balance!
Laird + Gabby's 10 Habits For a Healthy Family
- 1. Get enough rest.
Make sure you start the day rested (unless, of course, there is a newborn baby in the house - then we can talk about sleep later). There's nothing worse than starting out your day already behind the eight ball, tired and grumbly. That's a good recipe for conflict.
- 2. Respect individuality.
Even though being part of a family is all about learning to be a part of a healthy unit, families are made up of individuals too. Figure out ways to give each family member the opportunity to explore and satisfy his or her own needs. This includes moms and even little ones still crawling around. We all are different and figuring out each of our different places in life is important. With a little 'individual time', when the group reconvenes, each one of us are happier and have more to bring to the union.
- 3. Don't hold your feelings in.
Even though expressing your feelings can be scary and loud, the family should put it out on the table. This starts with the parents. We need to be examples of how to have healthy conflict resolution. It's no good when Daddy stomps around and Mommy holds her tongue and later tries to punish him for something 30 days or 30 years gone by. Vent. Little issues should get nipped in the bud. Having said that, there is also a healthy time to let it go and not take things personally. Which leads me to #4...
- 4. Don't take anything personally.
I notice it with my daughters, where one is going through something and the other somehow gets herself caught in the fray. It's hard to explain to anyone, especially a child, that it's not about them and better for them to keep on moving. As a wife, I have learned that 'not taking it personally' may be one of the golden rules.
- 5. Appreciate the individual.
Since a family spends a good deal of time together, it can be challenging to see what is special or wonderful about the members of your family. It's healthy to step back and remind yourself what a great person your mom or sister or child really is!
- 6. Do fun stuff together.
There are enough marks to hit in a home that we all end up sub-contracting fun with outside friends. Don't forget to have fun and be wild with the people you are sharing a roof with as well!
- 7. Break bread together.
As cliché as it is, work hard to sit and have dinner together. The world is a busy place and this is a simple way to stay connected eyeball to eyeball. Make it a rule to have no phones or computers at the table - and this does mean the adults, as well!
A light note on food and entertainment: Whatever you don't want to be eating, keep it out of the house. And do what you can to limit all screen time unless it's a weekend and the family is watching a film together.
- 8. Say sorry when you are wrong and thank you when you should.
Even as a parent, I try to be mindful of apologizing for things I need to be accountable for and saying thank you to my children or spouse. Yes, they should help me out or participate with the maintenance of the home, but you would thank a stranger wouldn't you, so why not them?
- 9. Be nicer to the people in your own home than anyone else.
This is a really hard one. This is especially hard when you are a parent and NOT a friend to your child. My job is to be loving, but also directive and the disciplinarian. The way I can treat my children better than strangers is by giving them my attention. I catch myself ignoring them and I would never do that with other people. It's a constant balance for the sake of survival. It's too easy to dismiss the individuals one lives with, so take care to pay attention.
- 10. A healthy family starts with healthy parents.
We can talk til we are blue in the face, but if we do our best to be solid examples of eating well, working hard, making exercise a part of our lives, respecting ourselves and each other, helping others when the opportunity arises, being honest, loving and admitting our faults, then this is a decent start for creating good habits for the other members of the family. We all know how cheap talk is, and kids tune you out anyway. Instead, do