Being a parent is literally the most difficult job I’ve ever had. There’s always four little eyes watching my every move and four little ears listening to my every word. It’s a big responsibility and no one truly understands it until they’re actually in it. It becomes much more apparent when your kids start asking questions or repeating things you say. You’re no longer free to stare at yourself in the mirror and make comments about your body while your daughter is slipping her feet into your shoes so she can play dress up. You can no longer hide the candy or the “mommy juice” (aka diet soda in my house) because your son has become very curious and will ask “what’s that?” a million times before you throw a Twizzler at him to try.
Well, I guess you can do those things. You can do anything you want. But I think every parent wants to set a good example for their kids. And don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes and say unflattering things about ourselves, partake in eat-out-of-the-carton ice cream sessions, and scream or yell at our kids out of frustration. And that’s all OK because no one is perfect. We’re all just doing the best we can.
I’m going to take a step back here for a second. You ever say something and before you actually finish the sentence all you can think is I sound like mother/father? It happens to me ALL THE TIME! Some classic lines in my house growing up were because I said so and life’s not fair. Those are just things I remember my parent saying, but what about things my parents did or behavioral habits they had??
When I thought about this, the first thing that popped into my head was making my bed every dang morning. As a child I watched my mom make her bed every day. I was taught to make my bed. And now, as an adult, I will not leave my house without making my bed. It’s just part of my life. It’s part of my routine. It’s part of my lifestyle. I watched this habit, I was taught this habit and this habit became a habit of mine (remember, habits are not always a bad thing!).
Creating and teaching healthy habits to my kids is very important to me. My goal is for my kids to see me engaging in as many positive, balanced and healthy activities as possible. Positive self-talk is one. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes everything in moderation and never feeling guilty about indulging is another. And of course, my most favorite thing in the world to talk about—movement.
The word movement is all encompassing to me. It means parking a little further away from the store because you have two good legs and you should use them. It also means not sitting on the couch every day from the minute you get home to the minute you’re ready to transition to your bed. It’s about having a dance party with your kids instead of watching TV. Or running around outside while cleaning up the yard instead of playing on a tablet (two birds, one stone here people!). And it also means getting your heart rate up and strengthening and lengthening your muscles with various forms of exercising.
I want my kids to witness and partake in all of the above. I want movement to be a big part of their lives. I want it to be a non-negotiable. I want it to become part of who they are are and what they do. I want it to be part of their lifestyle.
And while I won’t know if what I’m about to share is actually working until later on down the road (I’ll keep you posted by writing a blog post about it in 20 years), it couldn’t hurt to try some of these ideas.
Make time instead of making excuses. I could probably write a 30-page dissertation on how I hate when people say they don’t have time. No, you have time, you’re just not making time. Instead you’re making excuses. If something is that important to you, you find a way to get it done. I try not to use the phrase “I don’t have time.” Instead I say: “it’s just not the highest priority right now.” Because if it was higher on the list, it would be getting done. Yes, it’s that simple. No, for real, it’s that simple.
If you want to be healthier, more fit, more balanced, more in control, have more energy… then MAKE IT A PRIORITY! You might have to adjust your sleep schedule slightly or limit your social media scrolling time. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day so you just need to allocate your time better because no one has time. No one ever complains they have too much time. We all just say there’s not enough time in the day… or do we just need be honest with ourselves about how we’re utilizing our 24 hours?
Workout while the kids are sleeping: I commend any mother that works out with her kids playing in the next room. I think that’s amazing. I prefer peace, quiet and not having to worry about how many times I’m going to have to pause to break up a fight or “oooh” and “ahhh” over artwork.
When I workout at home, I set my alarm as early as 4:40 AM so I can get my workout in before the morning mayhem begins. I know it sounds super early and maybe too early to some, but your body gets used to waking up early. It’s worth it to get your 30-minute workout done in 30 minutes rather than 45 or 50 because of all the stop and go. Plus, I’m a working mom so I don’t have much choice– there’s no opportunity for a nap time workout. And by the time I get home, well I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open past 8 PM.
Get your kids involved in exercising: However, there are times that I snooze my alarm on a Saturday morning. And I do that knowing that at least one of the kids will be waking up during my workout. It’s usually Ethan and he comes downstairs and sits and watches me. But really he doesn’t STFU for 30 minutes!!
So while I regret hitting snooze because my workout won’t be as good as I want it to be, I figure it’s a good opportunity to teach Ethan about my love of movement. He imitates me using his Styrofoam weights, uses my step to attempt some cool moves, and works on his plank hug grip while I work on my plank. It’s cute and I love it.
Playground + Walk: I absolutely love being outdoors with my kids anytime it’s over 50 degrees. Every time we go to the “big park” in my neighborhood, I make it a point to remind them in the car: first we take a walk and then we play on the slides.
That’s right, the minute we get to the park I pop the kids in the double stroller and we walk around the park twice before playing. I like this tactic for two reasons: 1) It’s an opportunity for movement FOR ME! And 2) it teaches my kids patience. They don’t always get to run to the swings the minute they see them. And now it’s just part of the routine of going to the park. It’s not like it happens every other time we go. That means I don’t have to play “let’s make a deal” on the days I want to go for a walk. (I save that for when we leave: Ethan, Alex, do you want ice cream?!) #notajoke
And last, but definitely not least, schedule your workouts into your week on Sunday evenings. Not like I think I’m going to barre Monday and Wednesday and I’ll run, like two days. No, like, write it down in your planner and check it off as you complete the workout.
You might not have to write down your workout schedule forever, but I’ll be honest, over a decade into my wellness journey and I still find it useful to write it out. In a way I kinda build the rest of my week around my workouts. What I eat, when I socialize, when I have a drink (or two). It helps keep you honest and who doesn’t like checking something off a list!?!?
None of these tactics are that sophisticated. I prefer to keep things simple. My kids are going to develop some of my habits (good and bad). My goal is to give them as many good ones to latch onto as possible!