Follow Your Child’s Lead

Recently the girls and I went to watch my husband swim in his first masters swim meet – they are sweetly called “masters,” because everyone is — mature. My husband has never competed in swimming, but took up the sport due to the toll running was taking on his back. He has been at it for five years and finally decided to compete. I am pretty proud of him. He’s taking on a new sport and competing with people who were world-class swimmers and now as older adults are still record holders – an intimidating group. The more I thought about my husband jumping into a new sport as a middle-aged adult, the more I thought about how young children try new activities all the time. Then I thought, “Ya know, there are a lot of other lifestyle habits that we could follow our children’s lead on.” Consider these three basic areas and see if you can follow your child’s lead!

Bedtime

As parents we know how important it is to follow a bedtime routine for our children. In our house it’s “The Three Bs” — bath, books and bedtime. Our bedtime window is always the same, ensuring a good night’s sleep for the girls. We reduce their bedtime stimulation and avoid snacks and beverages before bed. What do we do for ourselves before getting to bed? Let’s see… get some last minute work done, watch TV, surf the web, have a glass of wine, eat, etc. I know it’s tough because we all want to use that time to get things done, but look at your child’s bedtime routine (on a good day). It doesn’t take long, 30 minutes perhaps — that’s all you need for yourself to set aside time to de-stimulate, unplug and ready yourself for a good night’s rest.

Exercise

Kids are always on the move at the playground, around the house and at organized activities. For many busy parents, exercise seems to take a back seat to everything else we are doing, when it should be one of our top priorities. Winter has been insanely long here in Minnesota. My road bike is mounted as a stationary bike in our basement. Do I get on it? No, I spend most of my time telling my girls to leave it alone or they’ll pinch a finger. Do I dare say we all have time in our busy lives to work in a little daily exercise? Schedule some exercise time for yourself just like you do for your child’s activities. Before you know it, the scheduled time will become routine.

Diet

It’s no secret that developing healthy eating habits during childhood helps children make better food choices as they grow up. I am the queen of “grab and go.” Starved after grocery shopping, I rip open a bag of bagels and devour one in the car. I should have just waited the five minutes it takes me to drive home and toasted half of the bagel and topped it with some peanut butter! Give your own diet some conscious thought — just as you do in giving your children a well-balanced healthy diet. There is so much advice available on preparing healthy meals and snacks for children, why not do the same for yourself?

What other healthy lifestyle habits could you learn from your children?

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