When you become a mom, your first instinct is to teach your children everything you know—how to ride a bike, how to dress themselves, how to spell, read and write. What you may not expect is that in addition to teaching your children life lessons, you end up learning a lot from them as well. That certainly holds true when it comes to healthy living.
Before having kids, you probably did not worry much or give a second thought to eating a candy bar midday, going out all night with very little sleep or worrying much about GMOs in your foods. After all, it was your life and you could live it as you liked.
Now enter children. You want them to grow up to be healthy, happy adults who become productive members of society and make all the right choices. Suddenly, you come to the realization that in order to teach these important lessons, you will need to set a good example. A candy bar for lunch is definitely not a good example of healthy eating. Sitting on the couch and watching hours of television is not a good example either. Nor is a quick trip to the drive thru because you have no time (or desire) to cook. All of a sudden your old ways can no longer be the norm. You do not want your children to follow the unhealthy habits you may have had prior to them being a part of your life.
Probably the biggest eye-opener is when we sometimes do allow our kids to eat unhealthy foods or veg out on the couch to watch television or play video games. We watch them shove a greasy slice of pizza into their mouths or slumped down on the sofa looking like a brain-washed zombie, and it is like a glimpse into what we probably look like doing the same thing. And now we realize how unhealthy it is for us and them.
Because moms are responsible for setting good examples, that requires us to take a step back, look at our own habits and behaviors, and make the necessary changes in order to be good role models when it comes to our children’s health as well as our own. If you eat poorly, there is a good chance your kids will too. If you do not engage in any physical activity, neither will your children. You cannot ask them to eat or act the way you want without doing it yourself. Your kids probably will not eat fruits and vegetables if you are not eating them. Quite often kids are curious about what their moms do, so if they see you chowing down on a handful of grapes or carrot sticks with hummus, there is a greater chance of them either trying it or, at the very least, asking you what it is out of interest.
The flip side of all of this is that you want to be around for your kids as long as possible. In order for that to happen, you need to shift your priorities a bit so that a proper diet and regular exercise becomes just as important as sleeping, breathing and bathing. You are no longer living just for yourself. You have children who count on you to be there for them, which means you need to take the greatest possible care of yourself. That includes eating right, exercising, regular doctor check-ups and getting enough sleep (that one can be difficult when you are a mom, but it can be done). These are all things you want and do for your kids so why should they not be something you want for yourself?
My kids know that mommy teaches exercise classes and eats healthy. They see me exercising, they watch me cook healthy foods and they see that I take care of myself. I have done my best to create a foundation of healthy living for them. I was not always like this prior to having children, but after having them, I realized that I want better for them which includes better for myself. I thank my kids for showing me the “light” so to speak. As I am teaching them as much as I can about life, they have already taught me so much that I never expected.