- Cahla Downs
RAISING FIT KIDS - PART 2
Struggling to find the time and money to keep your family healthy? Here are a few tips from a mothers perspective.
4. ENCOURAGE MOVEMENT
This is something that seems simple, but is really difficult to do. Most families are spread incredibly thin, especially when it comes to time and energy. Unfortunately exercising, working out, and staying physically fit require both of those things. Which seems impossible after 10 hours of running around, though “running around” these days often looks more like “sitting around”, at school, in a car, at a desk, at a restaurant, a meeting, or at home watching The Voice (when you finally get to unwind after a stressful day of activities). Families are twice as busy as they were 50 years ago, but half as active.
So I have to be extremely intentional about encouraging movement, and making sure we all expend the physical energy our bodies are meant to burn up. Because technology has made it so easy not too. I say movement because I don’t like to stress the term exercise too much, especially with the kids, because it tends to have a negative connotation. It seems You need to exercise =You need to lose weight these days. And that’s not really something I want to push on my young children, especially as they are growing and learning to become comfortable with their bodies. I prefer saying “You need to move a little and burn up some energy” or” Go out on the trampoline and play for a half-hour”. Or, “let’s go to the park and get our silly’s out”.
I want them to understand my health is a priority; it’s about keeping my body and mind fit, so I can be the healthiest mother and wife possible, both inside and out. It’s a difficult balance, and honestly finding time for myself can be really stressful, but I want my children to grow up prioritizing their own health similarly. And continue to do so into adulthood. Even when life gets crazy, and its easiest not to.
5. EXPLAIN WHY, NOT JUST WHAT
I would classify certain traditions and values as such: going to church, not swearing, being kind to others, respecting your elders, and respecting your body, by understanding what you put on it (i.e. tattoos and piercing) as well as what you put in it (i.e. cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and junk food…yes, junk food).
Do you think right now, without studying, you could pass your 10th grade trigonometry final? Odds are, you struggled with it then, and could barely even understand it now. I’m willing to bet that’s because it was in no way applicable to your life, and nobody sat down and showed you how you would use it in the real world. It was just information you learned because a teacher told you to. And you needed a grade, or there would be a consequence. Well, if you don’t explain healthy eating, nutrition, and the importance of food to your children, and you just tell them to eat it, they probably will…until the day they move out, go to college, or have a little money of their own. Then you’re likely to find them in the McDonalds parking lot shoving down a dinner box, and wondering why you sheltered them from the glorious golden arches.
The internet can be overwhelming, but pointed in the right direction, there is a vast database of websites, documentaries, companies, and resources dedicated to educating and encouraging those of us trying to make a difference in our health and diet. If you don’t feel confident to explain things on your own, sit down with your teen and have a movie night. A few resources to Check Out:
Food Matters Film
Hungry for Change
Fed Up Movie
Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
6. MAKE FOOD FUN
It’s easy to center a lot of stress around food. What we eat, when we eat, where we eat, and why we eat, are all potential points of contention. Going out to eat with three little ones is not exactly fun. It’s barely tolerable. Similarly though, trying to sit down to a family meal, while everything is warm, and everyone is home, is equally as challenging. Though, some of the closest memories I have both as a child, and with my own children, are those spent cooking and “doing dinner” together. Even if it was loud and crazy, dishes were overcooked, and the meal was way over schedule.
I will never forget the feeling of dipping calamari with my grandfather, or the laughter of my little girls as we cut out gingerbread men together at Christmas time. I barely remember the tastes, but the quality of time spent together, will resonate with me forever.
Food will always be a center of comfort for me, and something I value as a way for our family to connect, regroup, and enjoy life together. There are so many ways to make food fun. Especially when you’re preparing it together. Whether you choose Friday night as pizza night, and your kids roll out their own crusts and choose specialized toppings. Or you declare a “Taco Tuesday” rule and set up a Mexican themed dinner table.
Find time to arrange your schedule, and spend at least three meals a week together, preparing something the whole family can enjoy. Everyone needs to eat, just try and do at the same time as often as possible. Doing your best to make that time special and enjoyable.
Make memories, not just meals. Bon appétit!