Healthy habits are usually broken down into two buckets: mental and physical. Mental habits include screen time and how you interact with devices for well-being—for example, putting phones away during dinnertime or before bed so as not to disrupt sleep, which can also increase your presence with your kids and have other benefits. Physical health includes eating habits, physical movement, and drinking more water. 

Developing good family habits allows parents to prioritize self-care to be a better version of themselves and show up for the people they love. 

But making habits stick can be tricky. I turned to expert and  Chaos to Calm author Jenna Hermans for help. Her book just won a Pubwest 2023 Design Award in the category of Health and Wellness and is also up for an award on Audible. I loved listening to it on a recent road trip with my kids! 

Jenna also runs a fantastic organization with her husband called Be Courageous, which provides transformation and leadership consulting to companies worldwide. Some of the incredible habits she preaches in their program and her book are health and meal planning efficiencies, getting more physical activity and building that within your day, and finding more time to meditate.

I had her in the studio for a special episode of the MomShine podcast on remastering family habits for the new year. Here are her answers to my top questions on integrating healthier habits to be the best version of yourself!

How to develop a healthy family lifestyle and some examples to lean on

1) Make family habits pleasurable

Jenna: Some habits are more challenging to form than others. It would be straightforward to get into the habit of eating chocolate cake for breakfast every morning. That would take only a day or two; I call that a habit. I wouldn’t have to force myself to do that. It would become instinctual. 

“Challenging habits take longer to form because they aren’t instantly pleasurable.”

But starting a new workout routine, putting my phone away before bed, and reading during the day, whether first thing in the morning or at night, are habits that take longer to form because they’re more challenging. They’re less instantly pleasurable. So, the more enjoyable the habit you’re trying to create, the less time it takes to become a habit.

2) Use habit stacking to help family routines stay in place

Jenna: When wanting to create a new habit, you can use the foundations of a habit you already have in place. This process is called habit stacking. With habit stacking, you combine multiple habits back to back, stimulating each other. When you’re already in your cycle of that routine, it is easier to flow into the next habit. Like the idea that every time you have your coffee, you put collagen in it. When you have your French press or drip coffee, you also make sure to put your collagen peptides next to your coffee device. You are stacking those two things together or even adding another thing. What can you add to a routine where you’re already in flow?

“Where can you add to a routine where you’re already in flow?”

One habit stacking I started around two years ago was going to the grocery store after my daily workout at the gym. I made my grocery list the night before; then, after I was done at the gym, I’d go immediately to the grocery store and get what I needed. It sounds so simple, but it wasn’t a part of my usual routine, and I wasn’t in the habit of going to the grocery store regularly. 

3) Breakdown big tasks into manageable chunks

Jenna: With laundry, I have found that depending on what we have going on that week, sometimes I’ll stack all the laundry into one day. But typically, I’ll parse it out throughout the week. I put a load in at night and do a delayed start setting so that it begins in the morning while we’re all asleep. Then, before I leave the house in the morning to take the kids to school, I move that load into the dryer. So when I get home, there’s a dry load ready to be folded and put away. 

4) Be a role model for your kids 

Jenna: There are a couple of things that I recommend when developing healthy family lifestyle habits. One is to be a role model. By doing the task or activity in a healthy or efficient way, you’re setting an example for your children to relate to their tasks and lifestyle habits. Whatever they see you doing is what they are going to think is the norm of how they should be doing it when they’re older, whether that’s conscious or not. 

“By doing it, you’re setting the example that this is a healthy relationship with the self.”

Generally, it’s unconscious, but our behaviors sink in and take root in our kids as they absorb it all. We must make the lifestyle choices we want our children to emulate as they get older. We have to walk or talk.

5) Let kids co-create habits and take the lead

Jenna: I’ve noticed that whenever the activity or task is child-led, they are much more involved and have ownership over whatever it is. When it came to chores with four children and two adults in the household, we noticed that there were always dirty dishes, rooms to tidy, garbage to take out, and more. As every parent knows, the cooking and cleaning is nonstop. So we sat down with the kids and said, ‘we are spending too much time on these things every day. We all have jobs: we work, and you go to school. But let’s work as a team to help each other more.’ 

“Let’s work as a team to help each other more.”

It led our family to create a chore wheel that alternates every week. The kids decided on the chore cadence, the list of chores, and the grouping of chores per person per week. They also decided that every Sunday, we would turn the wheel so that no one was stuck doing the “worst” chores. One of my kids was super excited to make the chore wheel, and another decided they would be the ones to turn it in every Sunday. 

If a kid was on trash duty that week, they were also responsible for feeding the cat. They could do the chore when it worked for them, or we would say, ‘Hey, trash is full. We need you to take it out.’ Or, ‘it’s trash day on Wednesday. Make sure you take it out Tuesday night.’ That same week, someone else would be responsible for cleaning the dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and so on. 

Final Thoughts on Creating Healthier Family Habits 

I’ve tried all sorts of things to encourage my kids to do their part and help build their autonomy and responsibility in our house, especially when a once-in-a-lifetime trip came up recently, which involved taking a week away. Consulting other moms on how they feel calmer and more structured in the home has helped me do the same. 

The critical thing to remember is always to keep it fun and give them some control. Include them in conversations on how to divide and conquer. When things have stacked up at my home, or we plan on having people over, I create a chore bingo chart to see who can complete chore bingo for a special prize. When we shop, I encourage them to earn their own money through their family responsibilities and enjoy spending it now and again.

I also loved our episode featuring Jenna Hermans. Her advice on this comes around minute 15 when she discusses developing the best habits for the New Year. She’s a certified high-performance coach, entrepreneur, author of Chaos to Calm, wife, mama of 4, and co-founder of Be Courageous. You can learn more about her at