SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
When my family was young my health tended to come behind everything else.
By the time I'd covered all my commitments every week, there was little time left for me and exercise was something relegated to behind everything else.
At around 36 years of age I put on 5 kilograms. And by 45 there was another 5 kilos. And I could see that if I didn't change what I was doing that was going to become the future pattern of my life.
So I took a good hard look at my life and took back control of it, and finally stopped making excuses.
The first thing and probably the thing that made the greatest difference to my health was making a commitment to exercising first thing every weekday morning. I bought a walking machine so regardless of the weather I could still exercise.
I found a walking buddy and we did a brisk walk of 4-5 kilometres every morning, before we went to work.
That meant I came first every single day. I met my need for friendship and exercise all in one go.
Now maybe you're thinking you have to leave for work too early to do that. But I managed to have two kids into the car and out of the door by 7:30 five mornings a week. And my youngest wasn't always agreeable to getting up.
So how do you get everyone in your household to be cooperative?
One day I happened to listen to my four year son talking to my husband. When my husband asked him if he could help him do something he replied 'Yes sure.'
And it was at that moment I realized he was acting the way he had seen me behave. If someone asked me for help if I could do it at all I always said ' Yes. Sure.'
We discussed the importance of everyone cooperating in our household. We discussed the benefits and disadvantages of cooperating and not cooperating. And I let our children experience real life consequences of not cooperating.
For example, if they chose not to cooperate in the morning I had less time available to play in the afternoon. T.V. and computer time was a privilege in our household, not a right. I certainly didn't get to watch it if my jobs weren't done.
I can recall my Year 1 son being asked to get his home reader. But instead of being cooperative he dragged his heels. After fifteen minutes we were still having a power struggle over him doing his homework.
The next day I explained that he had fifteen minutes before his favourite show came on the T.V. If he went and got his reader and did his ten minutes of reading he'd get to watch all of his show. But he chose not to cooperate.
I explained that his show was on and that he was missing out.
But he thought he'd try to negotiate his way out of his commitment. Then he grizzled. 'It was too hard. It wasn't fair.'
To begin with I got up really early. I had the lunches and a healthy evening meal prepared before I left for my morning walk.
My children had their baths the night before so all they had to do was get dressed and have breakfast.
I ensured I had the children's clothes organized for them to get into and I had their breakfast ready to add the finishing touches to when I got home.
But what I needed for it all to work was for everyone in my household to be co-operative.
And the time ticked on. After another five minutes of grizzling and whining he saw that I wasn't going to change my mind.
I explained that he had to learn to read and it was his responsibility. My husband and I had both learnt to read. His older brother had learnt to read. And he knew to read the level of books he wanted to, he needed to learn to read. I explained that I was not being a good mother if I let him behave like that.
The next afternoon I did the exact same thing with the same time constraints and he read within the time frame perfectly.
Not only did he get to watch his show every afternoon as he wished, but by the end of the year he became one of the best readers in his class choosing to read 'The Hobbit' by himself.
In addition to daily walking, as my children grew older sometimes I kayaked one afternoon a week and early on Sunday mornings as well during the warmer months of the year and I cycled during the cooler months.
I also attempted going to the gym but it didn't fit my lifestyle at the time. However, as I grew older I joined a gentle exercise group that caters to my needs and I love it.
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