When motivation wanes, your daily habits kick in. While chasing almost any goal, you often hear how important it is to “find your why” and, when it comes to living a healthier, fitter lifestyle, ask any mom her “why,” and she will likely tell you that it is her children. Learning that self-care is not selfish isn’t necessarily an easy lesson for a busy mom to master. As a mom, it can be easy to put your own needs last on the list, but you truly can’t pour from an empty cup.
I experienced this firsthand when I was trying to lose almost 100 pounds while raising my three sons. There were many days when inspiration was hard to come by, I felt pulled in a million different directions and there simply weren’t enough hours in the day. I found that developing habits and creating boundaries for yourself were the solutions to making such a big lifestyle change. I would keep telling myself, “You’re no busier than a fit person!” Making my workouts as routine as brushing my teeth made all the difference for me. I realized that making time for myself not only affected my own health and wellness, but my children’s as well.
Mothers may not fully realize it, as they are handling a myriad of daily responsibilities, but they serve as the inspirational background for their children. In the parenting circle of life, children often learn their own healthy habits by seeing what their parents do. Whether you think so or not, your children are watching you and will model a lot of their own choices by your actions.
Educational and holistic consultant, Pearlan Feeney-Grater, from TheSelfCenter.com, explains that, “Our actions most certainly influence our children’s choices, particularly during those ‘formative years’ that span the ages of 0-7. During this time, a child’s brain is in a Theta brainwave state of profound learning, without a filter for accepting or rejecting what is experienced. So, whatever behavior the child experiences is believed as ‘gospel’ and takes root in the mind as a reference point for forming habits, for better or worse. Knowing this is a game changer in what we say and how we act around our children for healthy self-care habits to form.”
Every goal requires a plan of attack, and how you respond to challenges that arise will set a blueprint for your children. If disappointments cause you to get frustrated and give up, you will see that mirrored in your children’s behavior as well. If you struggle to take time for your own wellness, reframe the issue in your mind so that you are actually setting an example for your children by showing them that they should love and care for themselves.
I recently discussed the challenges of getting and staying motivated with motivational speaker, actor and author, Sean Kanan. Kanan, co-author of Success Factor X and author of the newly released, Way of the Cobra, which provides tactics and strategies to transform yourself and unleash your, “inner badass,” stressed that, not only is it important to first clarify your “why,” but you also need to clearly define your goals and chart the course of action you’re going to take to achieve them.
Kanan has advice for anyone trying to get back on track after a stressful period. He suggests that, “Taking a break, listening to relaxing music, or just taking a quick walk can work miracles. These simple actions can produce a rapid sense of calm that will allow moms and kids to get back in the game with a clear head and reduced stress. Sometimes you need to give yourself a time out. Simply taking some deep breaths and pausing can create a ‘reboot.’ Children experience frustration from a myriad of different sources. Most commonly, it is because they have limited life experience and their brain structure is still developing. Teaching children that encountering difficulty and frustration is a normal part of life can significantly help them understand stress. Learning that perfection is a myth can be an extremely valuable lesson to both parents and their children. Someone once said, ‘if you chase perfection, you may just catch excellence.’ ”
Visualize the positive steps you want to take and create a plan of action. Jari Love, certified personal trainer author and creator of the popular and scientifically tested Get Ripped! work-out series explains that, “There is a saying, ‘The difference between one who knows and one who succeeds, is the ability to act.’ Many of us know or have the knowledge of what to eat, and know the value of exercise, but do we follow our own words or advice? I believe our children will listen more if we set a good example at home. I can tell you it is way more fun if you can exercise with your children and relay that exercise can be fun! I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone walking with my children and end up having the best conversations – no distractions! That one-on-one time with your kids creates so many opportunities besides just exercise.”
*Carve out some alone time for yourself! Whether it is to work out to help improve your strength and flexibility or to give yourself a much-needed break to help manage your stress, refocus, and visualize your success, allow yourself some “me time.” You will find that you’re more present for your children when you are with them, as you are teaching them the value of caring for themselves.
*Create and do your best to stick to a daily routine. There will be many days that motivation may not be a force strong enough to drive you, but you are more likely to follow through out of sheer habit.
* Make being active part of your family time. Whether it is a hike, bike ride, or a day at the beach, you will not only create some happy memories, but you are also laying the groundwork for a positive connection between fitness and fun.
There is a good reason the airlines have flight attendants advise passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before helping children… if you can’t function yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. So, if your children are your motivation for wanting to live a long and healthy life, keep in mind how intertwined your well-being is with theirs and, by doing so, you’ll make a part of every day Mother’s Day.
About the author: Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight loss success story after losing 100 pounds. She mixes her no-nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog at Fbjfit.com and on Facebook at FBJ Fit.