Motherhood is a bit of a double standard. There are so many standards to which I hold my kids, that I don’t uphold myself. My husband will say that this either means that I am not treating myself right, or that deep down, I don’t believe in the things that I make my kids do. The reality is that while I do believe in the benefit of what I preach, life just generally gets in the way and I don’t take the time I need to make these things happen for myself. It means that my priorities are misaligned with my principles and until I reconcile this misalignment, the standards that I set for my kids will never be profound enough to stick with them.
Sleep – I am NUTS about keeping my kids on a consistent sleep schedule and making sure they get enough sleep everyday. They go to bed at the same time every night, and on weekends, I try to plan the day around their naps. And yet I frequently overextend myself at the expense of sleep. I run around doing chores until at least 11PM and on at least 4 days a week, I wake up at 4AM to go work out. That translates to about 5 hours a night, assuming my husband or kids don’t disrupt my nighttime sleep. I can function on this amount of sleep, but I’m sure it has some long-term detrimental effect on my health.
Food – I spend a lot of time planning and preparing meals for my kids. I make sure they get a balanced meal selection (they might not always eat it all), and don’t eat too much junk. I buy organic if it’s on the dirty dozen list, and my daughter drinks organic milk (my son drinks soy). My rule is that the kids are not allowed to eat unless sitting down. I, on the other hand, will happily eat HoHos for lunch, balk at the idea of spending $6+ for a gallon of organic milk for myself, and almost daily eat dinner while walking between the kitchen to the laundry room/kids’ room/bathroom to ready the tub, etc. My freezer is packed with Lean Cuisine and my pantry is packed with about a dozen cans of soup; not that it matters since I usually end up eating Oreos and Ding Dongs instead.
Health – my husband says I am OCD when it comes to my kids and illness. If I have any question about anything health related, I do not hesitate to take them in to the doctor’s office, pay my copay and get the diagnosis. However, I am writing this post while having dry coughed nonstop for WEEKS. Last week, I finally bit the bullet and went to go get it checked out.
Exercise – this is the one area that I do make a priority – I work out 4-5 days a week and up until recently, would often make a weekend morning out of strapping my kids in the stroller and going out for a run. This only stopped because my kids are going through a whiny phase – an hour straight of squabbling toddlers, “too cold!”, “too hot!”, “too sunny!” and “too slow” are like freaking torture. I am hoping that the early exposure that they got to running and the example I am setting for them by making it a priority in my life will stick with them because let’s face it, genetics is not working in their favor when it comes to physique and fitness.
There are so many other small things that I can point to which I enforce with my kids and for which I don’t follow suit. Why is this the case? I honestly have no idea, but there are several theories. Perhaps it’s because I believe that they are still a blank canvas onto which a solid foundation and good habits are still being painted. Perhaps it’s because I’m unknowingly following the most recent “hype” of “effective mothering.” Or perhaps it’s because I believe that I am a lost cause and that it’s not worth exercising these standards on myself. Whatever the reason, I need to keep reminding myself that in order for things to really resonate and stick with my children, actions will ultimately speak louder than words.