Most parents will do almost anything to ensure our kids are healthy. We take them to the park to play and run every day. We arrange play dates so that they have the benefits and joy of socializing. We shop for and prepare them healthy meals. We help them manage their emotions through talk, patience and various calming strategies. We give them a creative outlet through art. We take them regularly to a physician. We read to them, and limit television and screen time. We make sure they get plenty of sleep.
What healthy kids these are!
But what about their parents? (Meaning us.) What are we doing to stay healthy? Too often the answer to that question is nothing, or not nearly enough. Eating our kids' leftovers and staying up late to get chores done after they go to bed does not add up to a healthy lifestyle. Nor does sitting on a park bench while they run around, although the chance to connect with other parents always boosts our spirits. (What if parents spent playground time doing chin-ups or skipping rope?)
Too often, parents neglect themselves for want of time and childcare, and pour all of their resources into their kids' lives rather than recharging themselves.
And yet, this skewed existence isn't beneficial to anyone in the family, not even to the kids. When parents are drained and overtired, it becomes very difficult to summon the composure and patience to deal with small children. But even more important, our kids learn by observing the choices we make every day. If they see us neglecting to exercise or eat healthy meals, then no amount of exhortation will persuade them to do so, especially as they grow older. As we all know, kids are much better imitators than listeners.
Making healthy choices day-in and day-out is easier said than done. There are a million advice books and articles on the subject, but what we really want to know is how other parents do it. What small changes and choices do parents make to help the whole family approach a healthy, balanced and fulfilling way of life? We'll hear lots on this topic from our Savvy parent-writers this week, and we also hope to hear from you.
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