The role of parenting is the most diverse, low paying, challenging, thankless job that yields the most reward on Earth. And by the way, there is no bachelor's degree that prepares us and no policies and procedures manual to follow.
You will likely agree that the goal for successful parenting is to create a solid foundation for your children to prosper from.
There is an old parenting saying, “Do what I say, not what I do”. We have likely all said it at one time or another. But do you think our kids are listening or are they watching instead? The fact is, you the parent, is the most important role model your child/children will ever have. They watch every move you make, mimic you, and idolize you. With that being said, what are you modeling when it comes to a healthy lifestyle?
Are you teaching your children to take care of themselves, to eat right and to stay active, to manage his or her stress and get proper sleep, and to prioritize his or her health? It may be hard to hear this, but if you are not leading a healthy lifestyle you are teaching your children that their health it isn’t important.
Modeling healthy behaviors is the best way to teach your children that taking care of themselves is important. You may think that your behaviors go unnoticed until they are grown and taking care of their own kids. This is the time that we look back and see ourselves in our kids. Take a look in the mirror. Will you be happy with what you are instilling in your kids? If not, these healthy behaviors may help.
1. Eat a healthy breakfast. This may be the most important lesson you can teach your kids when it comes to taking care of themselves. Running out the door without breakfast can become a bad habit quick- and one that has monumental consequences. You may not have time to eat together every morning but the key is for your kids to see that it is important to you.
2. Drink water. Seems simple and it is. Set the example that water is the norm and juice or soda is only on occasion. Take it one step further and carry a water bottle. Not only will your kids see you drinking water throughout the day they will also learn to take care of the environment by not filling your recyclable can with plastic bottles.
3. Have an exercise routine and take your kids along. Even if you are heading to the gym and your kids are too young to work out with you, take them to the daycare. Maybe they are old enough to shoot hoops while you take your favorite boot camp class. The key is, they see you making time to exercise and they get to know your routine. You are teaching them to prioritize their own health as they grow up.
4. Spend time outside. People who spend time outside on a daily basis experience elevated moods. This means that both you and your kids are happier when playing outside. Happy kids are a plus! The important lesson here is to instill the love of the outdoors. They will be happy healthier kids (and eventually adults) spending time in the fresh air and sunshine versus sitting in front of the TV.
5. Have a bedtime routine. Modeling healthy sleep habits will go a long way. Without adequate sleep, we set ourselves up for a plethora of potential health issues, increased perceived stress, weight gain, trouble concentrating, higher risk of injury and so much more. Create a routine where your kids see you preparing for sleep by turning the lights down low, brushing your teeth, and settling down with a good book. We must demonstrate to our kids that sleep is not a luxury but rather a priority.