“I am no supermum”. I tell myself this each day as I try to attain a happy healthy balanced life for my family and for myself.  I remind myself that I face an age where there are pressures on my family, reportedly greater than for previous generations, to be perfect not to mention healthy and happy. I frequently find myself asking what I can do to achieve a healthy balance and attain greater happiness for my family. Well, here’s my recipe for a healthy family. 

Being healthy means coping with the emotional, financial, physical, spiritual and cultural demands that can come at you at any point in a day.  I don’t always cope.  Life can be a rollercoaster that I sometimes want to get off. However, like many of you, I have a family to consider and care for.  And, I want my family, and myself, to be as healthy and happy as possible.

There is no magic potion for a healthy family.  Being a healthy family is not easily or quickly achieved.  No family is perfect – we bicker, we get angry, we shout, we get things wrong and say the wrong things. Everyone in the family needs to work, everyday, to make sure each member of the family feels acknowledged, secure, loved, supported, listened to, valued, and respected.

A healthy family is one that is grateful for the little things – reveling in the growth and development of your children, taking time to enjoy your child’s laughter or when they are just plain cute, watching and being part of the things that our children learn everyday, being happy at how your partner can still surprise you.

A healthy family also means not forgetting your own adult needs! The old saying that a happy parent means a happy family needs to be well remembered.  Taking time to re-energise and think about your own needs as well as your children’s is important for your sanity.  Don’t lose touch with who you are – maintain connections with family and friends, and have fun away from your family.  No parent needs to feel guilty about relaxing, unwinding and having downtime.

Children model behaviour on what they see a parent doing.  Setting a good example by listening respectfully to other members of the family and showing your children how to cope in good times as well as bad will help them in turn to cope with the curve balls life throws at them. In turn this modeling with help your children become healthy individuals.

My family will attest to the fact that I don’t always get the healthy family thing right.  To help point us in the right direction, we have a family ritual every evening to take a few moments at the start of a meal to thank the meal maker for the time it has taken to make dinner and to bless the food we are about to eat. We give each other an opportunity to reflect and to tell each other what we are grateful for in the day.  It helps us think and gives everyone an opportunity to be listened to and share what was good about our day and helps us, as individuals, feel valued and respected for what we bring to the table.

I am no supermum; although I do, sometimes at my own peril, try. Raising a healthy family in times of stress and pressure is hugely challenging.  We all need to be reminded that raising a family is a gift that can be both satisfying and rewarding. And, not to forget to pat ourselves on the back as our children reach their milestones.  Working together as a family towards a common goal is both hard work and a bonus to you achieving a happy healthy family life.

Lastly, here is my (not so secret) recipe for a healthy family (alas, I am human, and sometimes it fails).

Recipe for a healthy family

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Rachel Binning is a full-time jack-of-all-trades who has an extensive background within the health sector. She now wholeheartedly agrees with ex US President, Bill Clinton that “the toughest job in the world isn’t being a president. It’s being a parent”. Rachel juggles being a mum of two active boys with her business, Bella Photography, volunteer work for many and varied organisations that support families, and contributes weekly to community newspapers throughout Wellington.

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