You’ve heard that physical exercise can increase health benefits and reduce stress, but did you know that spending time each day working on the body can also improve your parenting skills? That’s right, physical exercise can make you a better parent and here is why:
1- Nourish the Self First
Taking time each day to put attention on yourself and your own health makes you feel good and thereby translates to a positive attitude when dealing with children and the concerns and issues they no-doubt will bring to you day in and day out. You’ve heard the saying “you can’t fill someone else’s bucket when yours is empty” – well, this completely applies in parenting. If you are under-nourished and feeling less than great, you will in no way be able to give that much needed love and attention to your kids. Instead, they will feel your lack of self-nurturing as it rubs off on them in less than attentive behavior. Yes, you really might feel like reading them that bedtime story after all, if you’d taken time to exercise!
2- Redirect Negative Energy
Exerting yourself on something physical will help direct negative energy and thoughts you might be accumulating or holding onto so you do not place them on your child.
It is completely normal to build up tensions of one sort or another during any given day. Even though we’d all like to believe we have advanced beyond such activities, time and again one might find negative thoughts or issues of mental unrest which need processing. Taking time to physically exercise during the day, even for 10-15 minutes, can release unwanted strain and mental tension, leaving you free to interact with your child with more attention and less stress. This way, even when they drop that bucket full of toys all over your freshly picked up living room or knock over the houseplant when you’ve just vacuumed, you can keep your cool.
3- Detachment is Cultivated
Activities like yoga and Tai Chi, which bring attention to the inner space and ask one to calm the mind and become aware of breathing, while also moving the energy of the body through various exercises, can add a depth of detachment which keeps parents from reacting to situations and rather lets awareness lead the way. When we react rather than listen and get still first, we are often allowing built up body/mind tensions to find expression towards activities and situations to which our feelings do not really apply. Children have a way of pressing parental “buttons,” it’s like they were programmed that way. But practicing calming, mentally relaxing exercises helps to disconnect the triggers to mom and dad’s deeper issues and makes parenting with love and respect a much easier task.
4- You’ll be Happier
Physical exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel great, no doubt improving your ability to parent with more loving kindness and a lot more laughs. Being able to play and laugh with your kids is perhaps more important than being a good disciplinary, as it shows children how to enjoy life and take things lightly. Taking time each day to work-out and sweat out all your cares will translate well into parenting with greater ease and more happiness. When the parents are happy, the kids are inevitably so…because as they say – laughing is catchy.
5- Better Able to Relate
Kids are active, no doubt, and parents who stay active too will feel younger and more able to relate to their youngsters by maintaining a youthful demeanor and a body that can “keep up.” It’s true what they say, that physical activity keeps you younger. By staying active the body continues to regenerate healthy, youthful cells that detoxify more readily and take in nutrients quicker. Exercise also keeps the mind fit and free, just like the mind of a child. Taking the opportunity to exercise each day, especially with your kids, will improve your relationship and make it easier for them to believe that you too were once “young” because you’ll still seem so to them.
With body movements and stretching comes the obvious increased flexibility of the physical. But what is sometimes over-looked is the fact that moving the body also moves the mind. Physical flexibility translates into mental flexibility as well, which helps you, as a parent, be better able to decide the actions and words to use when interacting with small ones. Flexibility also means that sometimes not having things go as you would like or had planned is okay. Being flexible as a parent and able to “move with the changes” teaches kids to likewise approach life with greater ease and more fluidity.
Everyone knows when you exercise your energy goes up. Nothing is needed more when interacting with kids, naturally full of life and vigor, than to have high energy and the ability to “go where they go.” Just 20 minutes per day of exercise will increase the body’s ability to run with the children into all of the realms parenting requires of you. Energy is a by-product of movement, just like a windmill which accumulates energy by spinning, so we too gain more energy by moving our bodies and taking in greater amounts of oxygen.
8- Connectivity and Inspiration
What is more important to the sometimes all-consuming task of parenting than inspiration and connectivity? Being “mom” or “dad” means continually coming up with the next project, idea, task, goal or entertainment for your all-important kids. Inspiration, you could say, is KEY to leading the way, or “following their lead” day in and day out. Physical exercise, yoga, running, sports, swimming, all put you in the ever-expanding now-present moment – the place where all inspiration originates. Some people call it “the zone” – and when you are in it – you have immediate access to connectivity from the greater reality, what some term inspiration or Source. There is no doubt, connectivity and inspiration makes every individual feel better about life and themselves and definitely about parenting.
There are many many other ways and reasons how physical exercise can improve your parenting, these are just a few of them. So no matter the outlet, take time each and every day for a little movement to keep you centered and make being a parent just that much more rewarding and effective!
By Stasia Bliss