Friday, November 28, 2008

Healthy and Happy!

It is very important to get your children into active habits early.   If the weather is bad outside, be sure you do not lean on the television to keep your children occupied!  Be sure to limit video game, computer, and television usage, all of which are tied to When my children were young, I didn't have a television set except for videos.  We would watch a children's exercise video and "work out" together.  

I made sure we took a lot of walks, bike rides, roller blade excursions, trips to the park with relay races and many other activities.  It was easy for me to do a lot of fun activities because I had so many children to do them with.   If you have only one or two children, try to get a few friends together and have your children play together.  

Take your children swimming to the local pool.  Usually each city has swim times available where they can swim as a regular routine.  I took my children to playgrounds regularly, and made sure I visited every "good" playground within a 30-mile radius.  We washed the car together, did yard work together, shoveled snow, and went bowling.  On vacations, we stressed hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, skiing, and other healthy activities.

I also made sure that they didn't link food with anything except mealtimes and snack times. It may be surprising when I began this type of "schedule" - when they were INFANTS!!!  As soon as they were drinking about 4 oz. I would wait between bottles approximately 3-4 hours, giving them water in between.  As soon as possible, I had them on an every-four-hours schedule, 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m., midnight, 4 a.m.  When they began to sleep through the night, they stuck with the other times, and it was easy transitioning into regular eating and sleeping schedules!  Plus when infants waited for their bottles, they didn't just drink 1 oz., then 1 oz a half hour later, then 3 oz. an hour later...  I see many new mothers doing this and no wonder they're pulling the hair out of their heads!

As my children grew older, I also didn't want them walking around eating all the time.   When it was snack time, we sat at the table together and enjoyed a healthy snack - usually fruit, celery sticks with peanut butter, yogurt, etc.  Children don't need to walk around nibbling things all day any more than we do!  I eliminated sugar so that when other people gave it to them it was something special.  I tried to teach my children healthy attitudes about exercise and eating early so it would become part of their routine and be easy to continue as they grew older.

We kept eating before bedtime to a minimum, focusing on healthier choices if they were truly hungry.    I would tell them if they were hungry at bedtime, "Wait until breakfast -- we call it 'breakfast' because we 'break' a 'fast'!"   As they grew older, many of the habits I started when they were toddlers stuck with them.  

Challenge:  Take a look at your children's exercise and eating habits and be sure they are ones that are healthy and will inspire them as they grow older.  Tweak your style in any areas you need to change!  Make sure that you limit sedentary activities and encourage active lifestyles!   Don't let your children start any bad habits when they are young that they will have a hard time breaking!  Also, examine your own habits and ensure that they are habits you want your children to follow...  if not tweak your habits, because many of them will be caught by your children without even being taught to your children!  Keep it fun and exciting!

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