Attention Parents: Improving Your Children’s Health Through Yours
There are about a million reasons why I love my wife. One of them is her dedication to our family’s health. Whether it’s making sure our daughter and I have nutritious meals, or encouraging family exercise, she finds a way to manage our busy schedules and commitments while ensuring we provide a healthy environment for our 21 month old daughter.
One of our focus areas is pre- and post-natal training, but what we’ve found is that most people feel the added responsibilities and stressors of having a child can often be overwhelming when trying to find time to exercise. You may have been an avid exerciser or gym-goer B.C. (“before children”), but now your day is consumed with feedings, dirty diapers, or even rides to soccer practice.
One of the most important things we’ve learned about time management and raising a child is this: It’s almost impossible to set aside time for other things when you’re overwhelmed with parental responsibilities. Instead, we try to incorporate our daughter and her needs into whatever we’re doing.
It could mean going out for an earlier dinner to accommodate nap times. It may mean choosing a different time of day to workout so you can include your baby or toddler in the activity. Either way, children are a part of our lives and we can embrace the fact that they should be included in what we do. There may be times when they will sleep or watch T.V. while you workout, but this probably won’t be the norm, nor should it be!
Here are a few examples of exercises you can do with your little one:
- Pushup-Kiss: If you have a child who isn’t crawling or walking (or even one with the patience to lie on their back), lay them down, and perform push-ups while kissing them when you’re in the down position.
- Superman Reach: Sit your baby down on the floor and lie on your stomach with your head facing them. Perform superman extensions while reaching toward them for a tickle or touch.
- Front Squats: Who says you need a squat rack and a bar to get a good workout. Hold your baby close, and squat to a comfortable depth. Be sure to keep your back flat and don’t bend excessively at the waist.
- Stroller Lunges: Baby or not, use the stroller for support while performing walking lunges.
- Baby Lifts: You probably perform this exercise without even thinking about it. Lift your baby overhead for a great shoulder workout.
- Saddle Crunches: Lie on your back and either place baby on your tummy or have them straddle you if they’re big enough. Perform a normal crunch while holding their hands.
You may be thinking, “Right now the most important thing is for me to care for my child. I can put off my personal health until I have more time.” That seems like a valid reason, but I’d like to point out three reasons why your health and fitness is important for your children.
1. It’s your health & fitness: Much like marriages are better when each individual is happy and less stressed, the same is true for the parent-child relationship. Exercise is good for you, and it helps relieve the stressors of daily life.
2. Your kid’s safety: Ever been in a situation where you had to move quickly to stop your child from hurting his or herself? Perhaps as they reach for a hot stove or prepare to dart into the street? If you’re not able to move to help them (without hurting yourself), you put them at risk.
3. Your actions set the example: In so many other things we do as parents, we know that our children will pick up and follow the example we set. Children of parents who smoke have a much higher chance of becoming smokers. Similarly, children of parents who exercise regularly and practice healthy eating will tend to do the same.
Being a parent has never been harder. So many things demand our time today. But as parents, our top priority has to be our children. Do the things that will make them healthier, including taking care of yourself.