The other day I definitely had a moment of ‘mommy comparison’ when I saw a comment on a friend’s photo. She’d said she rarely ever gives her child sugar, and I thought to myself, “Damn, that is the type of parent I want to be.”
I consider myself to be pretty health conscious, and lord knows I am forever telling Reilly she has to eat a vegetable with her dinner every single night (yet falling back on it). I try to model healthy eating around her as much as I can. I talk about the effects of food on the body, how the right foods can make us big and strong and smart while the unhealthy ‘fun’ foods can make us feel all sorts of gross.
I allow her to have certain fun foods more often than I would like to admit. And sometimes it’s purely out of desperation to get calories into her because she is just so darn picky! Other times it’s simply because it’s a little treat for her, something we do together once a week or so because she’s a kid and she likes that stuff. I don’t allow her to consume nothing but unhealthy foods. This is our way of creating balance, even though I think our scale is a little tipped. 😉
Part of it, I think, is that I have battled body image issues for so long, and I absolutely refuse to put those ideas into her head. I never ever ever talk negatively about my body or anyone else’s. When she has taken up issue with her own body (sadly, when she was only 6!) I did my very best to squash it in the most positive way I could.
I am so conscious about my words regarding food, health and the body. We talk about it in terms of being strong, being able, and feeling good – never about how our bodies look or what is considered ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’. I have explained a few times that all bodies look different like all faces do, and our body sizes do not determine how ‘good’ we are, if we are capable of being well liked, or how capable we are of accomplishing anything.
I do believe I must be doing something right when Reilly tells other people she wants to grow up to be big and strong like me. She writes about it every chance she gets, like in her introductory project this year she took a picture from Oxygen magazine to show exercises we do together. Cute, right?
I know I can do more though. I can do a whole lot more modeling than talking. And that is something we discussed the other day as she walked two miles on the treadmill. (Who else’s 7 year old does this??)
Because I know from doing plenty of reading, doing things together when it comes to health related goals is better than doing it alone. I suggested to Reilly that from now on we do better together with our eating and exercise habits. We stick to upping our intake of healthy foods, eating dinner together every single night (been working so hard on this one), and we move together as much as we can.
So I started brainstorming, trying to figure out what can we do to be better together. And I’ve put together a little list:
- Play. Board games, card games, video games, math games, made up games, play school, play house, play dolls. We go through phases with how we play together but what’s important is that we do. It’s time we get to spend together doing something fun and drowning out the rest of the world.
- Movement. Reilly loves exercising with me. To make it kid friendly, we wrote exercises on Popsicle sticks and then we will pull them one at a time and do that exercise either for a certain amount of time or reps. We mix it up as we go. It’s not only a way to be active but it’s fun because you never know what’s coming next. Sometimes Reilly likes to do exercise videos with me (to her capabilities) like 21 Day Fix. It’s hysterical and sometimes distracting but always a good time.
- Cooking. While my girl may be a picky eater she is not a picky cook. She is nearing the end of a two month cooking class at the local YMCA, but long before that she was always asking to help out in the kitchen. I even surprised her with her own kid friendly cook book like this one. It’s a true test of my patience, to be honest, but it’s something she really enjoys doing. And it’s a way for me to introduce her to new foods, maybe get her to try a few, and to make food fun.
- Stillness. Reilly is so perplexed by my desire to sometimes sit in silence. No television. No talking. Just together, doing whatever it is we are each doing. Taking a ‘pause’ and simply existing together for a few moments in time is a great way to maintain connection. However, sometimes that does include popcorn and a movie or sitting together on the couch reading books or watching weird YouTube videos.
- Conversation. One of the top things I have missed since Reilly switched schools this year is that we don’t get to have our morning conversations in the car. We still find plenty of time to talk, about a whole host of topics, but the mornings were especially important to me. We got things off our chest or laughed or she asked me a billion questions. It set the tone for the day, and how could things be bad after something as awesome as that? I love how inquisitive Reilly is. I love how receptive she is. Even when trying to teach her or help her understand emotions or the world around her, I try to make it fun and relatable for her. Everything is, of course, age appropriate or made to be age appropriate. I think this might be my favorite thing we do together. Not only is she learning from me but I am learning a hell of a lot from her as well.
I want to instill great and healthy habits in her while she’s young, before the world tells her who they think she should be or how they think she should act. I want her to be confident in herself, comfortable in her skin. I want her to know she is taking the very best care of herself both inside and out, and to stay rooted there.
In addition to all of that I want her to always feel as though she has a strong support system behind her. I want her to know no matter what she does in life, what she looks like, whatever choices she makes, however she feels, she will always have at least one person standing up behind her.
There have been plenty of times over the past few years that I’ve assured her I am forever going to be with her no matter what. I often refer to us as a Team. Because we are. We love each other unconditionally and want to continue to have fun while we go on this little adventure that is our lives, together.
That is why it is so important to me that we are well taken care of – body, mind and soul. Having dealt with depression, an eating disorder and the residual hurdles during recovery, I am well aware of the importance of overall good health. If I want her to practice healthy habits and feel good about herself, I have to live that myself. After all, talk is cheap!
I’m going to keep Reilly at the forefront of my mind as I move to keep my own well being in check. After all, what is parenting/care giving if not setting a good example and being a positive role model?
I want for us to have a long and full life together. And that starts with good health.
What are some ways you stay healthy with your kids? How do you set a good example? And how do you squash comparing yourself to other parents who seem to be doing it “better”?