They are Watching You: A Mom’s Impact on Her Children

2015-05-05 13.12.34 shadowWith Mother’s Day closely approaching,

I thought it would be a great time to reflect on the impact that my health journey has had on my children. I am a stepmom to two boys, 14 and 11 years old.  I also have two daughters, ages 3 and 4 years old. Each one of them has, at one time or another, used my example.

I could go about this from many different angles, but today I will share a few examples of how my children have learned from my example. Nothing makes me happier than when I see them watching my journey and learning from it. Your children will not do only what you say, but they will do what you do!

 

11069274_748598068020_5629261200679164642_nAn Example to Move

Trent is 14 years old, and loves to try new foods and critique them. He would choose Pepsi over any other drink, and is more on the laid back side. He likes to play video games and read, but being active is something that we have to consciously encourage as it just isn’t his natural tendency.

We had just moved our elliptical down to the living room in hopes that I would start using it as something other than a clothes rack.  I had been getting on consistently for a few weeks and the kids watched me often.  I was in the kitchen making dinner one night, and I heard the elliptical moving. I went in to see Trent trying it out while watching one of his favorite shows.  I was so excited to see this. I never once encouraged him to get on, but he saw my example.  I complimented him on how proud I was that he was trying something new.

An Example to Hydrate

Tate is 11 years old, and a natural athlete.He is almost a black belt in Taekwondo and plays flag football every summer.  He loves to run and play sports, but he would rather get his fuel from Doritos and Gatorade. This boy is often concerned about his health, and asks questions all the time.

One day, I was drinking my big jug of water and he asked me about it. We were able to have an open discussion about how water is the best for your body, and the impact it makes.  Next thing I know, he fills a huge glass of water and is drinking it.  He has given up alternative drinks for water many times since then. He even chose to try giving up pop for a whole month.  These kind of conversations with your children can be meaningful. If they ask you a question about your journey, share with them. Use those teachable moments!

2015-05-04 00.23.19An Example to Live Balanced

I will lump Tessa and Taelynn together since they are so close in age and have been with me since day one. I am probably not as strict with my kids on food as I should be. They still get the occasional cookies, cereal, and yes, I have even allowed them to have an occasional Poptart. They have had some happy meals in their lifetime, but very few.  They are 3 and 4 years old, so getting them active isn’t hard.

I have many stories with them, so I will be more general with them.  If I ask the girls what they want for dinner, they have no problem asking for tuna, a salad with chicken, and carrots.  Their favorite snacks include things like fruit and Greek yogurt.  They know the terms protein and carbohydrates.  They can categorize food as healthy and unhealthy. They know that unhealthy foods are okay once in awhile, but not every day.

I can’t tell you how many times Tessa has dressed in shorts, knee high socks, and a headband saying that she is a “runner like mommy.” She wants to run races with me, and I am looking forward to that day! She has never been to any of my races, but she knows I run often. They beg me to go to the gym, and often ask when they can join me in the workouts. At-home workouts are nearly impossible with them around because they take up all the space on my mat. They are doing the moves with me!

Be the Example

The day my oldest daughter was born was the day I changed my ways. My boys got to see my entire transformation. They saw what is possible when you make good healthy choices. They see the example every day! If I was living my life the way I use to, my children would have none of these examples. I would probably be encouraging them to eat healthier and move, while I did none of it.  They would hear my words, but not see the example. This would mean nothing to them.

Never underestimate your influence on your children, no matter what age they are. Do life together, and make memories in the healthiest way possible!