Being the Adult You Want Your Child to Become

I remember the moment as if it were yesterday, I was driving down the road in our silver minivan on my way to deliver two boys to baseball practice at the local park, and my youngest [and only daughter, age four at the time], was strapped into her car seat in the “back-back”. This was our daily routine, we were putting on a lot of miles getting to and from sports activities and summer camps. Mia was forever in the car because three of her older brothers were heavily involved in a number of activities.  

At the time I prided myself on being a “hip and trendy” 40-something-mom-of-five who listened to the latest music trends on the most popular Dallas radio stations. This particular day Rihanna’s top 10 hit S&M was playing as we (likely late again) blazed across town to get to the diamond on time. It suddenly hit me and I truly heard and understood the song lyrics clearly coming straight out of Mia’s mouth!  

The verse was something about the smell of sex in the air…and for whatever reason it was at that moment I understood how much it bothered me Mia knew the words well and was singing them out loud. She loved to sing along with the radio and did so all the time. What was the harm, right? It wasn’t like at that age Mia knew what the sentence meant (I am not sure I even knew what it meant to be honest), but I believed (and still do to this day) that the messages our kids receive, especially when they are young and impressionable, are internalized.  

I decided at that moment I was done listening to pop music when my kids were in the car. I switched the radio to a local Christian rock station and that was what we listened to all the time as we drove around town from that day forward. Eventually, I stopped listening to any music I felt was offensive whether the kids were with me or not.

Redirecting the music in the car was just the beginning of making changes that have allowed me to be more aware, conscious, intentional, and to take better care of myself and our family so we are ingesting healthier media. It started with me, and with the wake-up call involving popular music lyrics.

The shifts I chose (and continue to practice) helped me to become healthier and more functional physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They also give me the opportunity to be present of mind to my spouse and children. For years I had run myself ragged trying to do/say/be what everybody else needed me to be…let’s face it, moms are kind of programmed to do this…many of us because our own mothers raised us to know no other way. We nurture, that’s what we do! Moms don’t have time for themselves, God forbid they ever take a sick day, right?

However, whether it’s a parent/child dynamic, a spousal relationship, or a career, we cannot give what we don’t have! Moms often wonder why we’re so short-tempered with our children (or spouse). They always seem to know what button to push to set us off!  

We are impatient because we are ignoring our own well-being, we’re abandoning ourselves and we’re spread too thin.

When we pay attention to and take care of ourselves, we are increasingly able to see potential problems and feel the tension within the home often before it gets to a point of arguments and hurt feelings. Taking care of ourselves means being emotionally available to pick up on when our kids are going through a challenge and we will have the ability to support them through it.

Other changes I have made over time which have strengthened my ability to handle the stress of daily life have included making time every day for myself in three ways:  physically (I walk 6-8 miles a day or attend a strength-training class), emotionally (I take time to read books that feed my soul, I listen to music that inspires me, I watch my favorite shows and listen to podcasts that expose me to other people who really care about making a difference in the world…Brene Brown’s podcast and Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday are two of my favorites!), and spiritually…I use the Calm app to meditate every single morning for 10 minutes, sometimes longer if I have the time.  

Most importantly, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about the ways in which I take care of me! I made a decision to release the guilt…it wasn’t serving me or my family.

These changes came from a decision to be intentional with my life. I got into a pattern of regularly asking myself, “Is this choice I am making right now for my highest good?” I really took the time to question everything from the music I was listening to, the shows or movies I watched on television, the books I read, even the people I was socializing with. 

Over time these changes allow me to become healthier, more functional and put into perspective the importance of connecting with my family and surround myself with people who encourage and support my becoming the best version of myself. It’s a practice, I am a work in progress…in fact, one of the areas I’d like to be better at is making healthy eating choices…there’s always room for improvement, right?

I won’t lie…as a result of being more aware of and conscious of my lifestyle, it was kind of sad to see some people naturally fall out of my life because of the decision I was making about what I was pouring into my life. There is still some fall out even today. AND so many new, interesting, inspiring souls have joined my path during this process and I truly believe this is part of my journey!  

Not to mention the fact that I’ve never felt better physically, emotionally, or spiritually!

Because of the self-care routine, I have implemented in my life, I am able to be a stable role model for my kids. I believe it is important to show them, as their guide, we (Moms) are healthier when we can recognize our feelings and needs, work through relationship challenges, and (especially during their teen years) work towards being comfortable instead of anxious about addressing tough topics like screen time, chores, dating, sexuality, drug and alcohol use, and to model being responsible as well as accountable for the decisions we make.

This module’s exercise is all about assessing how well you are taking care of yourself in the areas of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being by designing a routine that is something you can get excited about so you and your kids can benefit right now!

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