Every February you hear about heart health. With Valentine's Day and the focus on love, it only makes sense.
When Sweet Pea was born, we found out she had a complete AV Canal defect that would require surgery to repair. So, at 5 months she went in for open heart surgery to repair the hole in her heart. It was heartbreaking for us to know what she would have to go through.
The day after surgery.
One week after surgery.
One year after surgery.
For us, there was nothing we could have done that would have prevented her heart defect. But, there are things that you can do to help keep your children's hearts healthy.
1) Monkey see, monkey do. Set the example with healthy habits and positive talk about your bodies. Avoid harmful behaviors (smoking, alcohol, drug use) that breakdown the body.
2) Eat healthy. Having healthy food at home begins with making healthy choices at the grocery store. Stock up on nutritious and quick to prepare foods that work with your family's schedule. For menu ideas, go to www.eatingwell.com
3) Make family meals a priority. Children who have regular family meals eat a wider variety of foods, are less likely to participate in harmful activities, have better grades and have stronger ties to their families. To make mealtimes more meaningful, check out www.poweroffamilymeals.com
4) Encourage and model and active lifestyle. Encourage your children to be active. Take walks as a family. Find an activity that you can participate in together. Junior loves to ride his bike with me while I run.
Hmmm... Maybe not the best family activity ;)
5) Encourage quality sleep habits. The right amount of sleep is vitally important to health. While you sleep, your body repairs itself. With enough sleep, you'll have more energy, think clearer, manage stress better, get sick less often and be less likely to be overweight. Instilling healthy sleep habits now will set your kids up for a healthier future.
6) Unplug. Take time each day to unplug. Turn off the TV. Step away from the computer. Ignore the phone. Stop texting. The more connected we are, the more stress we feel. Limit time in front of video games. For every hour that you're plugged in, aim for double that being engaged with the family or outside moving around.
7) Resolve conflicts. No one is perfect. Not everyone will get along with you. Teach you children healthy ways to resolve conflicts. Teach love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. Grudges, unforgiveness, disunity and conflict are unhealthy stressors that can lead to health issues in children.
Mom and dad, you set the example in your home. Your children look to you. By modeling heart healthy living, you're helping your children to develop heart healthy habits. Take the steps needed to set them up for success!