In March, I had the opportunity to visit the White House with 150 other influential parent bloggers, to hear more about Let's Move- an initiative launched in 2010 dedicated to helping kids and families lead healthier lives. It was an eye-opening and exhilarating experience.
First of all, being in the White House was awesome, but more importantly listening to other moms, moms who lead our nation and drive important changes for health and wellness in our country, was inspiring. Moms are a very powerful force in this country and we must begin to utilize our influence in ways that push our country in a positive, healthy, and safe direction for everyone.
Also, I'm in the front row taking a photo in the thumbnail photo! Yay!!!
Over achiever moms try really hard to provide the absolute best we can afford (and sometimes can't afford) for our kids. But sometimes, we must take a moment to step back from providing all those "experiences", while completing the daily schedule without failure. If we don't, we can lose site of some really important affairs. As the kids' schedules become busier and more demanding, there are often places where corners are cut or convenience is inserted. It's in these moments where tough choices have to be made. One thing I've promised myself is there will be no shortcuts on health and food. In our home it's raw vegetables and fruits over fruit snacks and gummies; homemade popcorn over chips; oatmeal over box cereal. My kids complain, but a continued dialogue of why we eat this way, helps to satiate their desire for junk. It was refreshing to hear this reiterated by the First Lady.
- "NO" is Ok. Know that your kids will respect you more if you have limits and boundaries. Kids desire order. They crave it. They may moan about your decision but in the end, they will really adhere to the limits you set for them. Saying "No" won't break them or kill them. It won't make them hate you either. In fact, it'll make you more powerful!
- Eliminate Extremes. So yeh... extremes are always bad. Too lax on the diet and it's unhealthy, but too stringent on the diet is also unhealthy (unless it's for medical reasons). Both extremes create bad habits and bad relationships with food. Food is fuel; not our enemy and not our friend. Kids need to appreciate the fluidity of their choices, so providing healthy options and an occasional treat is ok. Just keep everything in moderation.
- Confidence is King... (or Queen in this case). Have confidence that you do not have all the answers and that you will screw up along the way. You and your family are in this healthy journey together. Be a strong leader that encourages your family to support each other in your health and wellness journey.
- Communication! Keep the lines of communication open. I tell my kids why we do stuff all the time. This rote indoctrination has helped me program them into the eaters I want them to be. Right now, my kids understand that we eat to prevent illness and to have energy. If the food doesn't fit into these buckets, we chuck it!
- Groceries Together. As annoying as it is, I take my kids to the grocery store with me. I used to leave them at home with their father or their grandmother. Now that they are older, I let them write the list, make choices with me, and tell me why I'm not buying a certain item. This creates buy-in and keeps the lines of communication open around the choices we make that involve food.
- Teamwork. You and your spouse need to be a solid team. Period. It won't work unless you work together and have the same goals. It also won't work if one or both of you have guidelines for the kids that you don't follow yourselves. Kids hate hypocrites and they'll call you out or lose respect for you silently. Set short realistic goals if you're trying to make big changes and lean on each other as you execute your goals along the long road to improvement.
Moms are magical. It's an exhaustive and thankless experience sometimes, but ultimately, we are what keeps the world, and our little worlds, going. Using our dollars wisely to support the goals we have for our children, means sometimes making unpopular choices. I've decided that I'm ok with being the bad guy in the short term to be the good guy in the long run.
Read "Parents Have the Power" on the Let's Move blog.
Let’s Move!: A Conversation on the Health of our Nation’s Children included panels with:
Sure you do! Take a look at our blog post on the Disruptive Women in Health Care blog:
"Breakfast is Always a Fun & Easy Meal to Get Kids Involved!"
"Introducing New Foods & Raising Adventurous Eaters"