Break the Habit: How families can change their routines for the better

2012-11-16T09:00:00Z 2012-11-26T13:00:02Z Break the Habit: How families can change their routines for the betterFamily Features nwitimes.com
November 16, 2012 9:00 am  • 

Routine can be a good thing. Regular bedtimes and nightly family meals help foster healthier kids who are better prepared to tackle challenges. But while shortcuts and timesavers can give you more time to spend together, they could also be shortchanging your experience.

How to Change a Habit

Breaking habits can be tough, but luckily there are many ways to reach your goals.

 

  • What's the habit? Get everyone together and talk about what family habit you would like to change. Is it unhealthy eating? Too much TV? Start small and keep it simple. If everyone is involved in the conversation, you're more likely to get everyone's buy-in and meet with success.
  • What's the reward? People stick to habits because something rewards that behavior. The reward makes it easier for the brain to put the behavior on autopilot, and before you know it, you have a habit. But the reward may not be that obvious. For example, you might discover that the real reward of watching TV after dinner is spending time together as a family.
  • What's the plan? Once you identify the habit and understand its reward, you can come up with a family plan to start a new habit with new - and better - rewards for everyone.

 

Here are some common family habits that could use a little revamping - and some easy ways you can make a positive change.

TV habits

After a long day, the couch seems to be calling you to just sit and watch TV — even though you know you could or should be doing other things. Talk about it as a family and see if you can figure out what your reward is for watching TV. Is it time together? Once you identify the reward, look for some other ways to get it, such as playing a game of soccer in the backyard.

Information habits

With a time crunch - and the force of old habits - it's easy to rely on the same source for answers. But using the same search engine out of habit could be letting you down. For example, when it comes to search, people chose Bing web search results over Google nearly 2 to 1 in blind comparison tests.* In addition to useful results, Bing also offers access to your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and more, letting you exchange ideas and discover what your friends are searching - to help you spend less time hunting and more time doing. You can test if changing your habit is right for you with the Bing It On Challenge at www.bing.com.

Eating habits

Full schedules often lead to fast food dinners or junk foods for snacks, which really adds up to spending extra money and adding extra calories to your diet. Instead, take a look at your weekly schedule and plan meals and snacks accordingly. If you know a particular night is hectic, you can plan a make-ahead meal and healthier on-the-go snacks.

Remember, while some habits and routines can be helpful, it's a good idea to re-examine them now and then to see if, with a few small changes, your family could be better off.

*Based on a comparison of web search results pane only; excludes ads, Bing's Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google's Knowledge Graph.

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