7 Small But Impactful Upgrades You Can Make For Your Family This Year

They're all so easy.

by Dorian Smith-Garcia

With 2020 firmly in the rearview mirror, most people start the new year by thinking of how they can make this one better than the last. As for me, I have no interest in promoting the “new year, new me” mindset, because those resolutions can become impossible to achieve. Popular choices like losing weight, cutting out sugar, or even changing careers can be large projects that may leave you overwhelmed or feeling defeated if you don’t achieve them by December 31, 2021. But for parents looking for ways to make 2021 even better for their families, there are small — and simple! — changes you can make that can improve your quality of life in your family's minds, bodies, and spirits. Here are a few to get you started:


Replace Sugary Drinks

Soda, juices, and other sugary drinks are common options for adults and kids, but they’re not an adequate hydration replacement for, you know... actually drinking water. And there’s plenty of scientific evidence to prove that drinking more water can improve overall health, reduce headaches, and improve wellbeing. Turn this goal into a fun family activity by taking your kids grocery shopping with you and letting them pick out a flavored water, a seltzer, or a new tea to try. Before you know it, you may start seeing that very product make its way onto your grocery list.


Reprioritize Dental Health

A new year and a reduced reliance on sugary sweets means now is the perfect time to reinforce good oral hygiene. Scientific evidence has shown direct links between oral health and general physical health, so why not encourage your kids to brush after every meal and opt for a quality toothpaste like Crest plus Scope? It helps fight cavities, prevents tartar buildup, provides whitening support, and freshens breath up to seven times longer than regular toothpaste alone.


Find Fun Ways To Get Some Exercise

While I'm not promoting a specific weight loss goal as a 2021 family upgrade, encouraging physical activity, in general, is important for everyone. This doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a 5K run or a triathlon, but little activities like going for a walk in a nearby park every day or spending 15 minutes in the backyard can encourage physical activity, reduce the reliance on devices, and boost mood.


Commit To Some Screen-Free Family Time

Let’s face it: Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other connected devices aren’t going the way of the dodo bird any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you should let these devices control every aspect of your family’s lives. To help your family (and yourself) pare back, try options like committing to a screen-free meal or setting aside a specific amount of screen-free time per day. Both ideas can help to build family connections, especially as your children get older.


Encourage Independence

No parent is truly ready to let their babies grow up, and that’s true whether your child is a toddler or a teen about to go off to college. But being a parent also means preparing your kids to do for themselves what you’ve spent their entire childhood doing for them. (Read: Don’t let your child’s first trip to the dorm laundry room be their introduction to why bleach should be used for white clothes only!) If your children aren’t already responsible for important “life skills” chores at home, it’s never too late to start. Even toddlers and younger kids can get in on the action by simply cleaning up after themselves in their play areas.


Cut Back On Unhealthy Prepared Foods

I get it: When you’re a working parent — or even a stay-at-home parent who spends all day chasing after kids — meal planning can sometimes take a back seat. Prepared meals from the frozen section can be an easy fix when you’re short on time, but many options usually aren’t necessarily the healthiest choice. Often loaded with sodium and hidden sugars, they do nothing more than offer empty calories. While you might not have time to cook full meals from scratch, there are plenty of healthy and affordable delivery meal-prep services that can be customized to your family’s preferences.


Rethink The Parent-Child Dialogue

Many of us millennials remember childhoods where dissent wasn’t allowed, which means it may be time for many of us to unlearn negative parent-child dynamics. Instead, reinforce positive boundaries while allowing children to speak truthfully about their feelings to a parent without fear of retribution. Lead by example and show your kids how to express negative emotions or disappointment in a way that encourages dialogue and doesn’t shut someone down or make them feel ignored.

Whether you focus on physical or emotional upgrades for your family, there are plenty of small changes that can improve your connection with each other and your quality of life!

This post is sponsored by Crest.