Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Starting Fresh, Realistically

The start of a new year always inspires us to be better, do better.  We can dive into the year ahead with grand plans and intentions - resolutions, if you will - and then fall off or stop dead in our tracks, paralyzed by the enormity of it all.

As a holistic-minded parent, or one aspiring to live more healthfully, the journey is fraught with many virtual landmines.  From toxins in personal care products to pesticides and antibiotics in our food supply, it's hard to jump in without feeling daunted.  Instead, we might try for a few baby steps.  Let's realistically set our sights on goals that we can accomplish and feel good about.  Instead of kicking off the new year swearing to rid your life of everything unhealthy, take on a few of these simple actions that you can ease into and celebrate:

  1. Find a local farmers market and frequent it at least once each month.  Useful websites such as Local Harvest can help you to identify a nearby market to visit.  Commit to checking it out, exploring what's fresh and local, and giving your area farmers a chance.
  2. Swap one product you use regularly for an organic version.  Whether it's the apple a day or your favorite shampoo, when you run out, replace it with something USDA certified organic.  Every little step counts.
  3. Spend quality minutes with your kids.  New years are littered with visions of fun-filled family weekends, screen-free vacations, and never missing a sporting event to cheer on a child.  But kids can get sick and cranky, life can get so busy and stressful that a screen is a welcome break, and who needs the guilt when plans just don't pan out?  Look for the small moments.  Snuggle up together on a cold winter day.  Play a short game of hide-and-seek.  Put down the phone and paint a picture together.  Quality time can be little bites, not just long stretches.
  4. Do something just for you, every month.  Okay, this should be every day - or at least every week.  But life can be busy, babysitters expensive.  So find something you can do once a month, just for you.  Take a hike, get a massage, go out with from friends for dinner, kid-free.  Restore your soul and your energy.  It will make you a better parent.
  5. Find support.  It can be daunting to discover how unhealthy our lifestyle really is.  In fact, it can paralyze people from taking action because the tasks at hand seem so far-reaching.  Get connected and find others who are on a similar journey.  Share your ups and downs, learn from one another, and benefit from the health-supporting benefits of social connection.  Virtual friends are fine, but in-real-life connections are immeasurably more powerful.

Let these simple actions guide you and give you a sense of accomplishment.  Once they have become routine, stretch into something new.   The year is just a week old.  Guilt has no place here.  Remember, we're just getting started!

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