I know that words can only do so much… that we must lead by example, especially when it comes to our children. But, I have to confess, I’d rather just say some really eloquent words and let that do the trick than do the hard work of backing up my words with actions!
Lately, I’ve been using our yard as my own personal gym. We were members of the YMCA when we lived in Florida. They offered classes for my kids while I exercised. We loved going there. However, when we moved, we discovered the local YMCA doesn’t offer as much for the kids and we opted out of a membership. I didn’t really care at that point because I was pregnant and not so much in the mood to work out.
A couple of months ago, I made a commitment to myself to start exercising several times a week. My husband had measured off our yard and discovered that ten times around approximately equals a mile. But… our yard is rather hilly and I just wasn’t quite ready for that! I made up my own circuit training with stair steps, push ups, crunches, etc. I am generally a very private person when it comes to exercise. I don’t like a big audience. I don’t really even like working out with my husband. I think I’m just really self conscious. So… I started exercising when the kids were resting in the afternoon. Pretty soon, however, Little Sis decided to drop her nap. Baby girl decided to be awake when everyone else was resting. I had to find other times to exercise. My kids LOVE being outside. So, I started heading out with them while Baby Girl was taking her morning nap.
They had seen their dad run around the yard when he exercised and now they were seeing me run up and down stairs and do jumping jacks and other (not so) fun stuff. Soon, they started joining in. I usually have at least one, but usually three work out partners. They are underfoot and sometimes I wish they would just go play, but I have to admit, it does my heart good to see them in on the action. Big Brother makes up his own circuit around the yard that includes running around the house, running up and down the ramp, jumping jacks, swinging and other things. Big Sis makes up exercises like “count the sunflowers” and “scratch your legs.” They usually lay down next to me when I am doing crunches. It’s pretty cute.
I have told them the importance of exercise. They knew that when we went to the YMCA I was exercising, but it took them seeing me and their dad in action to catch on. I didn’t exercise or eat well as a kid. I started retraining myself in college and it has been a tough road. I am praying that the kids learn solid habits early on.
Even more important than all the exercise is what my husband has been doing with the kids in the mornings. He gets up with the kids most mornings (bless him) and lets me sleep in (oh Lord, bless that man). In an effort to keep the kids quiet, he had been letting them watch tv. We made the decision recently to cut back on the amount of tv the kids were watching. We were noticing that they were becoming really loud and unruly and seemingly unable to calm themselves down. We don’t know if it was due to increased tv watching or not. Well, my husband has stopped letting them watch tv in the mornings, but not only that… he has started the habit of reading their Bibles in the morning with them. They each (age 7, 5 and 2) get a Bible and look at it quietly while my husband reads his as well. He said it took about three or so days for them to catch on and now they don’t even ask for tv any more. We don’t mind them watching tv every now and then, but now it is more of a treat than the norm.
Lead by example. It really does work…. good or bad, our children will follow the example we give them.