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Parenting Tip #12: Bring Your Kids to the Gym

For a long time, I've been resistant about bringing my daughters to the gym with me. And it was an effective excuse for years. It just felt so selfish. I as putting myself before my babies. They were so little and I was a full-time working mom, wasn't it better to spend time with them and not on myself?

But, geez, this is totally dumb logic. There are plenty of reasons adults need to be active and exercise. And taking care of yourself is NOT selfish. You can't pour from an empty cup. So all parents need to take time for themselves. Duh.

We teach our kids about nutrition and making good choices about what to eat, so the gym is just an extension of that. It's a habit they will need to learn, too. Pay your grocer today or your doctor tomorrow is the adage for eating right, and it works the same if you replace grocer with gym.

So ... this advice presupposes YOU love the gym, and you might not. But it's never too late to find an activity you can get passionate about, or at the least hate less enough that you'll go weekly. Could be yoga, tennis, weightlifting, CrossFit, ballroom dancing, whatever. It's up to you to be the example.

I went to yoga for years and years, but I fell out of practice and eventually the drive to attend classes. Lately, I found a HIIT gym called Fit36 that is just my cuppa tea. In some cases, our taste in activity changes as our bodies do. Be open to that change, ok? We can't all stay 19.

Anyway, watching you hit the gym regularly is just reinforcing what you're preaching. You can't say "kids, be more active!" while you're sitting around looking at your phone. Just like you can't say "kids, make better choices about food" while you eat a Milky Way. Nope. You have to model the behavior for a message to be effective.

Maybe you're miraculously a naturally super-fit person, but chances are you're going somewhere, doing something, to be active and exercise. My advice is to take the kids with you. Even if you're just strapping on Nikes and going for a run, let them help you warm up and stretch. So when they're grown up (sigh), they will be as active, because that is they saw ... that's "normal" adult behavoir.

So, now the girls are coming with me to the gym on weekend mornings. And when they don't come, I make sure to mention it at dinner. "Boy! My gym class was tough today!" And, yes, they don't love sitting in the waiting room but they're getting used to it.

Best of all, in my gym, I can see them through the glass. So I can make faces at them and do silly dances to embarrass them. And that's just a win-win!

Related Posts:
Tip #5: Stop Being Parents ... for awhile
Parenting Goals on a Friday
All my Parenting posts


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