“The sun is shining, good morning, good morning!” That’s the beginning of the song to my daughters favorite TV show, The Notekins. As a rule, I like to keep tv shows educational and if the tv must be on, I prefer it to be background noise. But today’s post is not a lecture on how much tv a kid should or should not watch, but rather about getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. Being from up north the days of being able to get outside and play and have fun are limited to approximately 5-6 (if we are lucky) months and it is important that we maximize our days to help teach our children how to play and enjoy the outdoors. “The sun is shining good morning, good morning!” I love it, because it reminds me to go for walks with friends and get my fitness in without it feeling like a drag. It’s hard to get up and go to the gym, actually I don’t go to the gym, with so many free apps and having a few pieces of cardio equipment at home and knowing that I can call a friend to get out and meet for a walk with our kids is an awesome way for me to stay motivated and fit instead.
However, this drive to stay fit and healthy is not just for me. The main reasons are selfish I will admit, but they have to be. By selfish I mean I exercise for my own good, rather than say selfish in terms of vanity. I exercise to stay healthy and fit for me and not for anyone else. I do not exercise to get outside attention or for looks. I exercise because I know that it is doing ME good and it helps ME stay positive and healthy. Secondary, it is for my daughter. I want her to grow up with the instant motivation to exercise for herself. At first it will probably start out with well, I want to exercise cause mama does, but as time moves on my hope is that she will find joy in going for walks with me or taking a yoga class with me or doing an abs video with me.
I want exercise to be as normal for her as watching her favorite tv show. I want fitness to be a word she grows up thinking is a positive thing to enhance her self-esteem and ability to gain confidence. I want her to come to learn that exercise is something that will help her overcome obstacles. My hope is that she will use what she knows from being physically fit, and translate that into her everyday life. For example, I want her to push the envelope by understanding that if she goes one more mile on a walk where she is getting tired and pushes herself to finish, that she will also be able to apply that to her studies. When math gets tough and she wants to quit, she will push herself that extra mile and stick with it til she gets it right. Of course I am not advocating for her to become obsessive or neurotic, but rather I want for her to see that anything is possible.
She does it now as a baby, she see’s no reason why she can not climb up the ottoman in order to stand. She see’s no reason why she can’t but one hand in front of the other to crawl to a toy she wants. Right now she does not know the phrase “I can’t” and that is something I feel that is important to continue to develop in her. Instead I want her to learn something that I learned a little later than I should have and that is, what can I do to get me to where I need to be?
This is basic problem solving skill and intrinsic motivation and I think that fitness is a great way to help children understand and manifest within themselves this innate process. When we are able to do that one extra push up, we feel good. When we run that one extra mile we feel proud of ourselves. That is intrinsic motivation. When we run out of steam and hit a wall with our fitness goals, we have to learn how to over come it. When we lose a race or can’t eek out that last crunch, we are forced to look at ourselves and say what can I do to complete that last crunch or win that race? That is problem solving. We have to use our brain and think about ways to accomplish our goals. I want my daughter to be able to do that.
How do I do this or should I say how am I going to do this?
1. Doing some kind of physical activity with her or around her. Take her for a walk, use the elliptical while she plays with her toys.
2. Praise her for wanting to be around me when I do these things and praise her for wanting to come with me.
3. Not saying I can’t in front of her. Instead, saying things like how can I do this with what I have?
4. Continuing my quest for health and fitness for my own sake. When she sees that mom is doing something good for herself, it teaches her to take pride in herself and encourages self-love and appreciation.
5. Have fun. If fitness does not look fun then why would she want to take part. Show her that I love what I do so much that I want to share that love with her.
Now, I know she is only a baby right now, and who knows 5 or 6 years from now I may come back and edit this blog post with things I have learned that work and don’t work. For now I am going to stick with this. For now I am going to do as I am doing and create a positive energy around motivating myself to exercise and when the sun is shining get out with friends for walks and have a good morning, good morning!
In good health!