When we first discussed this topic, we discussed how it's probably best to do some homework...since I don't have kids and there are likely many theories on the best answers.
As I was doing said homework and thinking about it, I began to come up with what is it now, that I wish I known when I was younger? This will be a mix of both, some opinion, some fact.
Getting the homework started, there were some super basic ones I found...
No need to beat a dead horse with some of these, but it will help me kick of the first one.
Every one of you already understands the importance of working out or you wouldn't be at the gym. This is by no means an ad-vocation of getting your young kids to begin a workout regime. Save that for high school sports, maybe....teenage years. If they are going to workout, at that age it should be for a reason. Bigger for Football, stronger legs for Hockey, faster for Soccer or Cross-Country. My point here is that we don't want kids to begin an unhealthy obsession with working out.
The sports specific case is obvious but, as you all know, working out is to keep you healthy so that you can do the things you love. To create opportunities, not to punish yourself for what you ate or for other less healthy habits.
Help them find a love for being capable. For the outdoors. For whatever they want to do. Hopefully this also helps them stay off the screens a little bit too. Go for family bike rides or nature walks, build a fort in the back yard, play fun games like tag/kick the bucket/Frisbee. Also engaging in things like swimming, downhill skiing, ice skating and other "rec" sports will help keep your kids active and healthy without promoting "working out".
Boy...where could we go with this one? You have all learned, and probably re-learned, how to eat better and better over the years. We can keep part of this simple, protein with ever meal, 2 handfuls of veggies, 3 fingers of fats.Or CrossFit's nutrition in a hundred words "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat."
Is there still a lot to unpack here? Of course! What are macros, what are the best veggies, what seems healthy but isn't, what are healthy fats when everyone always talks about "fat free". We get it, no simple task or answer here.
When it comes to your kids, start with the basics so they have an understanding of what healthy really means:
Easy to transition from eating right to cooking.
My mom liked to bake, so even though I do minimal cooking now, I do know how to measure, follow recipes, etc. It's a good skill to have.
There are plenty of places to find recipes. Heck, you can even order your healthy food directly from companies that will send the food and directions to make it! Let alone Pinterest, Google, or your gym posting a recipe each week on Fridays.
Either way, if they understand the importance of eating real food, they are going to have to know how to prepare it.
Help them understand the basic utensils needed. Help them understand when meat is cooked properly. Help them learn simple knife skills. Help them know how to not butcher something on the grill!
Another possible addition to this lane is what it takes to get to a final product:
Plenty of ideas here, just make sure they are handy in the kitchen so you don't have to tell them they can't have McDonald's everyday or Cook their Thanksgiving when they are your age! Let them pick out a fun recipe and shop/measure/cook everything together.
Info is everywhere and literally a push of a button away. Kids are also in school and forced to read a bunch of necessary, but probably boring info. They (I believe) should still have an appreciation for reading...or at least learning. Whether it's fiction or to learn a new skill or simply reading up on a topic they enjoy...I think reading is dying a slow death and it's unfortunate. Don't get me wrong, you can learn just about anything from YouTube, but there is just something about picking up ink on paper that I appreciate. I say that knowing I still should do more of it...
I think part of it is I see how much kids rely on a screen and I just really hope my kids someday still want to build a tree house or fort or literally anything. There is a time and place for screens but I like being outside!
Ok, so we all know kids have no trouble sleeping and even writing this I feel like this might be a difficult point to make or conversation to have but it warrants a try.
I picture it going something like this:
Parent - "When you get older you need to make sure you get plenty of sleep and you are going to be super busy and stressed and have your own kids who keep you up at night."
Child - "So you are saying more sleep is good?
Parent - "Yes, it's super important for your health."
Child (teenager?)- proceeds to sleep till Noon all summer long!
This one feels the most like I am only reinforcing a habit I know all you adults need to focus on as well. But it is still an important one to keep working on!
I think there are plenty of other things worth noting but you are probably already working on those...how to manage money, how to talk to adults, how to fix a flat tire, but this is long enough. I know you will pass this on to your kids so there is no need to dive into it more.
Thank you all for reading what turned out to be maybe more opinion that fact but hopefully important none the less.