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Health & Balance

Good-Life Activities for Your Family

Make time for the good life together.
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Family Fun With Food continued...

Have a “reading dinner.” Choose a book and read aloud while you eat. If your kids are old enough, they can take a turn. “I think the reason my kids ate all their vegetables when they were younger is that the rule was, you have to keep eating if I’m going to read!” says Cox.

Enjoy special food outings. Have a regular, simple ritual, like going for ice cream after dinner once a week, or walking to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning.

Cook together as a family. Even the youngest child can help in the kitchen by pouring or stirring. “Just remember, it’s about the process, not getting to the outcome,” says Cohen. “It’ll probably take you longer to make the cookies than if you made them yourself, and the kitchen will get a lot messier. But if you tell them to stop and let you do it because they’re making a mess, you’ve blown it. It’s about time together.”

Invite friends to a monthly “soup night.” This is about more than just your family -- it’s about connecting with a community of friends. On soup night -- maybe the first Saturday of every month? -- make a huge pot of chili or stew and let it be known that friends are welcome to drop by with a bottle of wine or a loaf of bread. “Having things like that, that sense of community, lets kids grow up in a place where they feel safe,” says Cox. “They know there are other adults who will look after them.”

Family Exercise and Outdoor Play

Introduce your child to a sport you love. Whether it’s yoga or ice skating, fishing or biking, almost no child is too young to be at least a small part of your favorite activity. “If it’s something the parent loves, the parent’s enthusiasm will make it fun,” says Cohen.

Go for family walks together. If you think your child will be bored with a simple walk, try Cox’s trick: storytelling walks. “We’d make up stories together -- for example, after the movie ‘Toy Story,’ we’d imagine what our sons’ toys would do while we were gone,” she says. “We’d make up elaborate scenarios about which one would get lost, which ones would help find him, and so on.”

Make up indoor versions of outdoor games. “Thank goodness we never destroyed anything, but we did do indoor soccer in the front hall,” Cox says.

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