Last post I wrote of some overarching goals I have in active parenting. These goals are uniquely mine, and I hope sharing these thoughts is helpful.
I do believe that in order to truly promote an ideal (e.g., “being active and self aware”) to a person – especially a child, it is critical to model that ideal. In that vein, I work to let my children see what I do. They may not accompany me on runs, but they do see me returning from them each morning, and often they will pick me up if I run point-to-point from our house to a kid-friendly place of interest (e.g., the zoo). They know my husband climbs a couple of nights each week in the evening, and often will “join” him when he and his partners climb during weekends.
I’m taking a break from running right now, as I’m 23 weeks into pregnancy #3 and just not loving running enough to do it. (More on this coming in future posts.)
Back to modeling behaviors. My daughter just started the swim team. Swimming is very nostalgic for me: I swam competitively from 4th grade through senior in high school. I have utilized my swimming skills during many collegiate injuries, marathon training, and during each of my pregnancies (mostly as relief from the heat: my daughters were born Aug & Sept). My husband recently pointed out that I never swim when I take the girls to the pool; instead, I generally splash around and play with them.
In response, I have begun using the 45 minute swim team practice time to do my own swimming, which my daughter finds hilarious, as I look like, in her words: “A mommy puffer-fish.” I do look hilarious, but it also pushes me to swim more regularly than I have since my pregnancy 5 years ago. (You can check out my amazing 20-30 minute swims (& other activities) on Strava).
Scheduling is never easy: Swim team meets at 4PM, which means I leave work early; my swimming means I’m not jamming through end-of-day tasks on my computer, in the bleachers. However, enthusiasm is contagious: my daughter instead sees me tackling an activity that she is also engaged in, with a big grin on my face. We get to share swimming tips (e.g., baby powder in your swim cap helps it slide on more easily and not catch your hair). I see a handful of little girls giggling their way through 25m lengths. She also sees me, her pregnant mom, swimming just as excitedly as the competitive/high school team, for whom she has a 7-year-olds awe, that swims in the entire rest of the pool.
In sharing this activity, we both find validation.We might both be working on fulfilling our unique goals during that time (my microgoal: back ache relief! her: to “beat the boys”), but we both are there, testing mind and body, working on big, delicious goals.
Thinking long term, I’m interested less in her swimming speed, and more about how this is teaching her a lifelong skill that can be used competitively, recreationally, or for rehabilitative needs. Similarly, I’m interested in providing her a role model that shows activity can be done at all stages of life. I’m hoping she remembers, deep in the future, that her mom was a very happy puffer-fish.
How do you model your ideals for your family, children, friends, and yourself?