Parenting is a tough job. The hardest one out there. As parents we are so focused on instilling good habits in our children that it’s often easy to forget that the best way, is to do it within yourself first.
My daughter is 3.5 years old and like all kids her age, she runs pretty much everywhere. She runs from her bedroom to the kitchen, she runs from backyard to the front yard. She runs from the living room to the bathroom. She just runs! She actually thinks it’s the only way to get from point A to point B. She’s also attended several races with me. She loves to cheer as I cross the finish line and almost always asks me to keep on running so she can join me. There is truly nothing more exhausting after finishing a race than hearing “C’mon Mama RUN with meeeeeeeeee!” as your little darling sprints off past the post race recovery & snack bar….. So the other day when I was leaving for a run, my tiny princess said “Mama I go run with you?” I really don’t know why I was surprised, this seems to be a reoccurring theme!
Then there’s my 7 year old son. Although he loves to play sports of all kinds, he was never a naturally physical kid like his sister. He enjoys spending time playing LEGO, chess and even practicing piano. So it really took me by surprise was when he came home from school and announced he got 2nd place in an 800 meter race! Keep in mind that this is the kid who started talking at 9 months but didn’t walk until 16 months! He was so happy to share his accomplishment with us and of course we were beyond proud of him. My husband and I congratulated him and eagerly took on that parental pride of announcing it to anyone who would listen 😉
So all this got me to thinking about my running and how it has impacted my kids. In a relatively short amount of time they have seen me adopt a new fitness habit and grow to love it. They have noticed as I began to train regularly and write about it. They’ve watched me when I come home from a run, all tired and sweaty but super happy and pumped on endorphin’s. They’ve even asked repeatedly why I run...see my previous post See Mommy Run Hmm…so clearly there is a connection.
Then there’s the food. Since adopting a healthier lifestyle and beginning to train for a marathon, it seems that almost by accident it has changed how my children view food. Not that long ago my son would have never tried soy milk or asked about healthy food choices. He would have balked at kale chips and dessert tofu. However since I have started to change my eating habits, my kids have become interested and willing to try new options as well. I aim to not force any changes upon them but to simply live by example and encourage when they are eventually interested and intrigued in what I am doing and eating.
My son and I have a routine every Wednesday after school as we make our way to his piano lesson. We used to stop for a hot chocolate or a smoothie at fast food place but now we stop at our local health food store where there is a juice and smoothie bar. All of a sudden my little man is drinking veggies and fruits mixed with hemp, chia, soy and loving it! Each week he looks forward to trying a new smoothie and is actually eager to learn about the ingredients in it. I pretend like it’s no big deal but secretly, I am thrilled
I’m even considering entering my kids in a 1km race this summer just for fun. They have both asked about kids races a few times and I think the time has come for them to try it out. It’s amazing to see how easily you can impact your children and guide them in the right direction just by example.
It turns out that making healthy food and fitness choices for yourself may just be the best parenting choice you can make for your children’s health.