13 Easy Swaps (that I’ve made personally!) for Healthier Kids

I remember being pregnant with my first child (who’s 13th!!!! *sad face* birthday is tomorrow) & wondering what he would look like, would he look more like me, or his dad (we’re still debating), how smart he’d be, what his voice would sound like, what his favorite shows would be, his hobbies of choice, what he’d call me (13 years later, I’m still Mommy :-)), the list goes on.

 

I also distinctly remember many who were much wiser than me telling me that at the end of the day, all that really mattered was that we had a healthy baby. And while I understood their sentiment, it sounded more like what the wise “should” say to a newly expecting mother.

 

If you’re a mama out there, you know their wisdom to be solid truth. I began by educating myself on healthier eating. I began by making a single switch, from regular milk to organic milk, then another switch, and another, and another. 13 years in, and I’m still learning and evolving when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle for my family.

 

No part of our lives has gone without change.

 

So in honor of my son’s 13th birthday, here are 13 swaps (that I’ve personally made) for healthier kids.

 

 

1| Purchasing higher quality/organic food

I remember my very first organic purchase, organic milk. My first toddler was switching from breast milk and formula to regular milk, and using the knowledge I had at the time, I decided against conventional milk and opted for organic. Then came the apples, strawberries, and every other dirty dozen produce items we consumed. I'm not saying everything you buy needs to be organic. In fact, local options are preferred in many cases, but the point is this: switching from low quality food that had been stripped and depleted of nutrients will contribute to better health. What you put in is what you get out. And the good stuff tastes better!

 
2| Steady bedtime

I had both of my kids in college, so putting them on a steady bedtime began more as a necessity than anything. In all honesty, I had no idea how many hours of sleep they actually needed at different stages of development. Once I learned that my preschooler needed a full 10-13 hours of sleep, I immediately changed bedtime. He has always been a mild-mannered boy, but for many kids lack of sleep contributes to learning difficulty, behavioral problems and decreased activity in their immune system. Lack of sleep negatively affects all of us. But our growing and developing kids especially need that chance to rest and recover. Now as I enter the teenage years (I can't get over it! I have a teenager...) with my son, I'm still just as vigilant that he catches enough zzz's.

 
3| Stopped burning toxic candles 

I grew up with a mom that loves, and I mean LOVES, scented candles. So naturally, as I began cultivating my own home, Bath and Body Works became my BFF. But again, when I learned about the toxic fumes I was subjecting my young family to, I immediately stopped using them (click here to see what I use instead). I do now use another type of candle that actually helps to purify the air when I'm in the mood for that amber-colored flickering, but I'll post about that later. 

 
4| From neatly organized clutter to in-depth decluttering/home organization

I could create a whole slew of services based on this one alone...oh wait....I DO offer a whole slew of services for decluttering and healthy home organization. 🙂 When it came to giving my kids the type of childhood I'd imagined, a constantly dirty and disorganized home was not what I had in mind, yet it was constantly what I had. I spent many many many many years on the hamster wheel of staying on top of cleaning my house. And though I was losing the battle almost daily, I didn't give up. Studies show that kids that are raised in cluttered and disorganized homes have poorer performance in school.

 
5| No Meat/Dairy

This is a very recent development...as in summer 2017, development. Yes, I've watched "What the Health" and yes that played a part. Since switching to organic milk to avoid synthetic hormones among other things, I've had my eye on nourishing my kids as best as I could. I am still new to learning to feed them on a plant-based diet, so I won't talk much about it just yet. I'll keep you updated as I get my bearings a little more as a plant-based mom. 

 
6| Plastic Storage Containers to Glass Storage Containers

I've talked about this one ad nauseam it seems so I won't go in-depth here. In short, plastic storage containers leach toxic chemicals into your kids food and subsequently into their bodies. This wreaks havoc on their endocrine (hormone) and nervous system. Basically, it's no bueno. So I switched. I still use plastic containers in certain instances, like for non-acidic or cold foods. Here's a Facebook Live Chat I did a while back that covers more. 

 
7| Non-Stick Pots and Pans to Ceramic, Cast Iron and Stainless Steel

I've also talked about this one in a Facebook Live Chat, so I'll link that here. But this one is pretty much the same deal as #6. Too many chemicals and toxins from the cookware to the food to your family. 

 
8| No More School Lunch

I appreciate schools offering lunch, and don't judge for one second those that utilize that convenience. I ate school lunch my whole academic career and I "turned out fine" :-).

 When my son first started school in PreK, he ate school lunch every day. I sent in his snack for snack-time and went on about my business. I don't know why I didn't pay attention to what they were feeding him at school then, but as best as I can remember, it was simply out of (my) sight, out of mind. That all changed one day when I went in for a parent's lunch with his PreK class. They offered to feed the parents for a small charge (that I'd pre-paid), yet I could not stomach the spaghetti and meatballs they served. From that moment on, I made it my business to send my kids to school with a healthier, homemade lunch. For many this may seem like a big undertaking, but like anything in life, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Now that my family has switched to a plant-based diet, I am again freaking out about what to send in. We're in this one together.

 
9| Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

See #s 3, 6, and 7, and you'll get why we switched this. Wash, rinse, repeat.

 
10| No Juice

This one began purely for budgetary reasons. Once I started purchasing the higher quality foods I referenced in #1, I had to cut something off. I couldn't up my budget at the time so as I altered my grocery list juice was the first to go. I still buy organic juice boxes for school, but at home, I cut it out completely. My kids didn't stop being thirsty...so they drank more and more water which obviously contributed to better overall health. My husband and I now use fresh-pressed juice for smoothies. The kids, still no juice. They prefer almond milk for their smoothies. 

 
11| No TVs in their room

My mom bought my son his own tv when he was a toddler. I reluctantly put it in his room (I was against it, but was outnumbered by my mom and husband), and watched the trance begin. I found myself getting lazier and lazier when it came to reading time and play time with him, because the tv babysat him so well. I can't remember when we removed it (maybe a year later), but he hasn't had a television in his room since. For Christmas last year I bought the roll-away cart like substitute teachers roll in (didn't you love seeing that walk through the door?!), and mounted a flat-screen tv we weren't using for them to earn tv time alone. Much to my surprise, they've rarely cashed in on their vouchers. They do have other electronics, like iPads, that they can use on a specified basis. 

 
12| Heart Healthy Activities

As a kid, I played outside about 99% of the time I was at home. Kickball, baseball, and side-line bust (a yard-friendly version of football) kept me active all the day long. I don't know if it's just my kids or my own paranoia, but my kids don't play outside nearly as much as I did. Even with extra-curricular activities in rotation, the amount of time spent indoors was still too low for us. To supplement, we go on family bike rides (new this summer, and SO fun!), take them swimming, do home workouts with the kids (my husband is at the gym with my son as I type this), and lead generally active lives. Plus the family bonding is great!

 
13| Independence

I could have very easily been your typical helicopter mom. Being a mother is one of my most fulfilling roles (right next to being a wife) and I love doing things for them, even if they are capable of doing them. On the flip-side, I realize the need for them to learn to build their confidence in their own abilities, and to not use me as a crutch. My husband took the lead on this one early on. Our kids are very capable, even at a young age, we just don't let them try. My son now makes his own lunch and his sister's, and can clean the house as good as any maid. My daughter has fought for independence the moment she got here, and is learning to do more and more as the days go by. 


 

Phew! That was a lot more than I originally intended it to be, but I hope you found one or two to be helpful. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. We are still growing, learning, and evolving as a family and I look forward to seeing what life looks like when my 9 year old daughter turns 13! 

 

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