Have you ever known someone that does anything and everything for their kids? In sports, for example, you’ll see parents making sure their kids have all the gear they need. And they put them in the best academies. They sign up for extra technique sessions with a skills coach. And they structure their schedules around their kids lives.
It doesn’t have to be sports. The same applies for arts, dance, music or whatever their child is into. Mom and dad pull out all the stops to make sure little Billy, or Suzy, has the best opportunity possible.
And that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Except when it starts to interfere with mom or dad being able to live a healthy life themselves.
And that’s unfortunate because I would guess the parents make all these efforts and sacrifices so their children will grow up to be strong and healthy adults. It’s unfortunate because it’s less important what we do for our kids and more important what they see us doing.
Take a moment and let that sink in.
In other words:
- It’s more important for our kids to see us eating the right amounts of healthy foods than it is to feed them healthy foods.
- It’s more important for our kids to see us getting regular exercise and activity than it is to sign them up for every team and activity available.
- It’s more important for our kids to see us spend time reading and studying than it is to buy them books and extra tutoring lessons.
I remember my good friend and renowned Dr. Susan Kleiner sharing a study with me. And the study looked at parents that would meet at the mall for coffee. The parents would pack healthy snacks for the toddlers. But the parents would get a cinnamon bun or some fries for themselves.
When these kids grew they made nutritional choices based on what they observed rather than what was served to them. The kids grew up to model their parent’s behaviour. The parent’s behaviours spoke louder than their words.
So what does this mean for us?
Well for anyone with kids, or that is a teacher, coach or caregiver, we need to recognize that children pay very close attention to what we do.
Sometimes parents will pass on opportunities to take care of themselves because they believe they can do more for their kids as a result.
Have you ever heard someone (or maybe even yourself) say:
‘I would go and train but I needed to take my son/daughter to that extra practice’
‘I haven’t had anything to eat since (breakfast, this morning, lunch…) because I’ve been busy getting everything ready for my son/daughter’
Does this sound familiar?
If so, don’t worry. Just recognize that it’s not selfish to fuel yourself, getting a training session and the rest you need. Not only are you ensuring the best version of yourself for those that love and depend on you but you are also giving them the greatest gift for health and fitness. You are showing them how they can have the best health and fitness when they are older and deciding for themselves.
Going forward look at your schedule for the coming week. Make sure you have scheduled in at least three training sessions for yourself. Give some thought to a protein breakfast you will eat each morning. And pack some leftovers from the previous evening for your lunch.
Rather than compromising on what you’re able to do for your kids you’ll actually be doing more for them in the long run. And as you invest in yourself you’ll be the strongest and healthiest version of yourself for your family.
But what about people who don’t have kids?
Well this message applies for anyone that has kids in their lives. This might be a daycare provider, a teacher, a coach, an aunt or uncle or anyone that interacts with kids.
Savage JS, Fisher JO, and Birch LL. Parental Influence on Eating Behaviour Conception to Adolescence. J Law Med Ethics. 2007; 35(1): 22–34.