We all want the best for our kids. We search for the perfect preschool, shop for organic produce to fill their lunchboxes, limit their exposure to television and the computer, bathe them in the finest shower gels free of nasty chemicals, lather them up with sunscreen, encourage them to be healthy eaters, and make sure they get plenty of sleep. Lately I got to thinking… do I take care of myself the same way I take care of my kids? Do I practice what I preach???
I’m definitely more lax when it comes to me and what I put into my body than I am about my kids’ health and food consumption, and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because I’m so busy worrying about my kids that I put myself on the back burner? Maybe because health and nutrition weren’t stressed when I was a kid, and old habits die hard? Maybe it’s just because I’m human and we all have our vices? (I also know that no one is perfect.)
I certainly cook healthy meals for my family, but I’ll often indulge in something not so healthy after I put the kids to bed – a cookie, a bite of a brownie, a glass or two of wine. These things aren’t going to kill me, obviously, and it’s fine to indulge every now and then, but I certainly wouldn’t want my kids watching mindless television at 9:00PM while eating a bowl full of salty olives and drinking a glass of sauvignon blanc. So why do I? Since I’m confessing my bad behavior, I might as well get it all out – I also don’t always remember to apply sunscreen, I don’t exercise enough, I probably check my iPhone too much, and I stay up later than I should (a lot later). Epic fail, mom! There’s plenty more, but you get the point.
“Do as I say, not as I do” isn’t how I want to raise my children. They are so observant – something I lose sight of every now and then, until I’m reminded by my oldest son that I said a bad word in the car two days ago. I need to remember that by taking better care of myself I’m setting a good example and (hopefully) building a foundation for my kids to live a healthy lifestyle in the future. I mean, I’m not always going to be around to remind them to eat their vegetables and brush their teeth! As much as I would love to cut up their avocado, put an extra serving of fruit on their plates, and remind them to drink their milk every day in the college dining hall, I’m pretty sure that would cramp their style. So maybe passing on dessert, trying a new vegetable, or going to a yoga class will inspire them to do the same… now and later down the road.