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Having a child changes so many things. For most parents, the birth of a child throws their life into upheaval. Priorities changes. Things that once seemed all-important can be moved permanently to the back burner. This transition has both benefits and drawbacks.

One downside is that new parents often let healthy habits fall by the wayside. The busy new life of having a child can make it seem like staying in shape and eating a good diet are no longer feasible. Unfortunately, many parents believe this is actually true. Rather than striving for a healthy life, they accept their fate. Here are five crucial practical tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle even after having kids.

Play With the Kids

Kids are naturally active, high-energy little humans. At times, this trait can be frustrating to parents. However, playing games with kids involving running, jumping, or any other form of physical activity is a great way to fit in some exercise. Activities like biking, swimming, and hiking are also good. Of course, there’s a double benefit — besides the exercise, parents deepen their connection with their offspring. It’s good for all involved if parents and kids have fun together.

Remember the Importance of Modeling Healthy Behaviors

Children learn as much from what parents do as what they say. Kids imitate their parents almost automatically. Mothers and fathers who merely preach about exercise and eating a good diet will have no effect. Parents who struggle to find the motivation to follow a healthy lifestyle should remember that they aren’t doing it simply for themselves but for their kids. From this perspective, following healthy habits is actually a matter of parental duty and responsibility.

Make It a Priority

Is it really that hard to follow a healthy lifestyle while raising kids? Sure, there are challenges, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Too many parents passively accept changes in behavior that are far from inevitable. As in many areas of life, prioritizing is the key to better results. Parents who decide that getting regular exercise and eating a decent diet is genuinely important will be successful. It’s a myth that the demands of parenting make healthy living impractical.

Put Exercise In the Schedule

For many parents, having kids means life becomes a succession of ferrying their children to classes, sporting events, play dates, and other activities. This regimented way of life means that anything that isn’t part of the schedule will probably never get done. If exercise isn’t included, a passive, sedentary lifestyle will likely result. The solution is consciously choosing to carve out time in the schedule for workouts.

Home-Cooked Meals

Though the convenience of fast food and delivery is tempting, it isn’t worth the downsides. Sadly, food prepared by restaurants is usually unhealthy. Making meals at home is the answer for parents who want to eat a good diet. Home-cooked meals are also wonderful for bringing together the family and deepening those familial bonds. Many wonderful memories have been created over the family dinner table.

An unhealthy lifestyle has terrible effects. Over the long term, the risk for awful diseases and early mortality is dramatically increased. Short-term consequences are bad, too. For new parents, striving to maintain a healthy way of living before bad habits become entrenched is crucial. For parents who have already spent years eating poorly and rarely exercising, the need to improve their habits is even greater. Either way, acting immediately to follow a better lifestyle is vital.