A friend of mine told me that when all his kids were in diapers at the same time, he and his wife would be so tired by the end of the day that they just wanted to lay down to watch their favorite TV shows. But because they liked different shows, they agreed to watch in separate rooms—which isn’t bad once in a while. However, it formed a habit that stuck, even after their kids were older. Eventually, the marriage reached a difficult place. Breaking habits like that is the beginning of restoration.
There are lots of not-so-great choices families make once in a while with no major consequences. But when those choices become habits, you’ve got a problem. Such is the case with these 10 habits to break as a family.
1. Fast Food
The nutrition you get for the calories, sodium, and fat you consume is a bad deal. If you find yourself feeding your family from a paper bag with grease stains every few days (or more), it’s time to cut back.
Some families, especially those with teenagers, find themselves in tense, argumentative conversations over and over all day long. But it doesn’t have to be that way nor should it be. Make a conscious effort to curb the sarcastic or argumentative comments you make as a parent and demand that your children speak to one another with love and respect, too.
For a busy family, organization is a must. It starts with keeping a great calendar of everyone’s activities and should trickle down to kids keeping their own work and assignments in order.
4. Wasteful Spending
Making everyone aware of how little expenses add up can turn the family budget around substantially. Help your kids break habits like buying bottled water or soda when they’re out and about by giving them reusable water bottles instead. Eat at home more and dine out less (see #1). Teach your kids to take care of expensive sports equipment and school shoes so they don’t have to be replaced as often. It all adds up quickly.
An overscheduled family is a stressed-out family.An overscheduled family is a stressed-out family. Survival, not intentional living, becomes the rule of the day. Choose wisely which commitments you make or allow your kids to make. You may find that your family gets greater joy out of doing fewer things with less pressure.
6. Failing to Eat Together
Busy families often find that the family dinner table is the big loser when we get caught up in the rat race. But it’s worth it to schedule three or four (or more) true family dinners each week, where every member of the family is required to be around the table to spend time together and eat well. Statistics show that families who do this have happier, healthier kids and parents.
7. Screentime Overload
If you or your kids are spending more than an hour a day in front of a screen (TV, computer, video game), you’re probably spending too much. Families who have major media addictions have higher rates of obesity and other health problems. Plus they’re missing out on countless other worthwhile endeavors, like reading, outdoor play, games together, and great communication about things that truly matter.
8. Skipping Church
Make worship and family church activities a priority. This will pay greater dividends in the life of your family than anything else you can do. It will establish a good habit that will be important to your children’s own spiritual growth and health long after they leave your care.
9. Hiring Help for All the Tough Chores
For busy suburban families, there’s a great temptation to simplify things by hiring help for all major tasks, such as housecleaning and yard work. But if your kids never have to pitch in to get these everyday jobs done, how will they ever know how to do them well or appreciate what goes into them? Do your kids a favor by reserving some key jobs for them that help them develop a work ethic and sense of responsibility. This also can be a great relief to your budget.
Doing so can create a host of other problems. For starters, you don’t know if the family you’re comparing yourselves to shares your values, priorities, practical limitations, or budget. For those reasons, it makes more sense to set your own pace for life by intentionally choosing what’s best for you and your family and not worrying too much about everyone else.
Sound off: Which bad habit has your family already broken?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some bad habits we should stop doing as a family?”