Did you know that, according to a study on modelling habit formation, it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit?
That is over two months spent working towards daily routines and actions becoming second nature; whether that be working out regularly, taking part in self-care rituals, or eating a balanced diet. Let’s not forget that, for parents, there is additional pressure to model healthy habits and routines for their children.
Having said that, forming healthy routines does not have to be difficult, just consistent. With this in mind, here are my top three tips to make the days and weeks spent forming routines much easier for you and the family.
1. Set gradual and realistic goals
Start by setting small goals in weekly or even monthly increments to maximise your chances of success.
Let’s say that you would like your family to get into the habit of eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Your family is currently only eating two servings a day, on top of this you’re dealing with children (or even adults) with very particular taste palates! Trying to enforce this new routine overnight will likely lead to tears, protests, and giving up immediately.
Instead, by setting gradual goals, you could commit to eating at least three fruits and vegetables a day one week and raising the number weekly until you’re at five a day. Alternatively, you could set the goal to make sure that at least one meal a day
has one to two servings of fresh fruit and vegetables. For little ones, you could make this into a game of trying a new food every week and rating it on a sticker chart.
By moving the goalposts slowly over time, sometimes we hardly notice them moving at all. Before you know it, you would have made significant progress towards your goal.
2. Plan ahead
Life is full of variables and, sometimes, these just can’t be avoided. However, introducing small changes to make consistency in your day-to-day life easier can prevent giving in to old habits in a moment of weakness.
For example, if your goal is to get your family into the routine of a balanced and healthy diet, then going shopping without a set meal plan or when you’re hungry will result in you over-purchasing food or stockpiling snacks with low nutritional value.
I would suggest sitting down on a Sunday and selecting your meals for the week ahead to ensure that your mealtimes are planned to include the sort of foods and nutrients that you want to introduce into your family’s diet.
If planning and prepping meals sounds like an extra step in your already busy schedule, I would recommend turning to a meal kit delivery service such as HelloFresh to take the weight of meal planning off your plate with pre-portioned ingredients delivered straight to your doorstep. HelloFresh also takes into account specific dietary requirements and needs, so if part of your routine is following a more Flexitarian, Low Cal or Carb Smart diet, you can select the recipes to meet your goals. With their flexible plans, you can switch this up week after week until you find a system that works for you.
Using a meal kit delivery service can still provide opportunities for family involvement and often generates excitement at the diverse meal options available. Engaging your family in the meal preparation tasks as a joint effort can facilitate a collective learning experience, allowing everyone to discover new cooking techniques and flavour combinations together.
3. Be kind to yourself
I have worked with athletes to perfect their routines and habits and, let me tell you, building habits is a marathon and not a sprint for us all!
There will inevitably be slip-ups, but what truly matters to routines isn’t perfection – it’s consistency.
When these mistakes happen, take a deep breath, acknowledge the shift, and commit to getting back on track at the next opportunity. By bringing yourself back to the goal or milestone in mind, these ups and downs will seem less catastrophic as they are all part of the journey towards building a healthy routine.
Dr Jo Lukins spends her day inside the heads of individuals, teams and organisations – seeking to understand what makes them tick and assisting them to reach their potential.
With a PhD in Psychology, over 30 years’ experience, and a breadth of knowledge in the sport, organisational and educational domains, Dr Jo Lukins is an expert in resilience and performance. Dr Lukins has worked with elite athletes and outstanding professionals throughout her career, giving her a unique insight into the world of success. She has been acknowledged as an expert in her field, being awarded an Outstanding Alumni by James Cook University for her achievements.