The “I” in Parenting

Posted On Jun 19, 2014 By Vito La Fata

parenting and fitness

I love to travel – especially when those travels end in tropical destinations. Which is why, when my girlfriend’s best friend told us her plan to have a destination wedding in Mexico, we eagerly hopped on board – literally … on board an airplane. Just before takeoff, amid my daydreams of relaxing on the beach and getting my tan on, the flight attendant began her safety spiel: “The exits are here and here, your seat is a floatation device, yadda yadda, yadda.” But then she said something that really struck a chord with me, “Put your own oxygen mask on first, before assisting others.”

Here’s the thing, I’m always “on.” I’m always thinking of new systems, creative ideas and ways to change the world – it’s just what I do. So when she said, “Put your own oxygen mask on first,” it was like a lightning strike of inspiration – you have to take care of yourself first! It’s a little counterintuitive; your whole life people have probably been telling you to “put your kids first” or “put your family first.” Well, I’m here to tell you that everything they told you was wrong! You need to put yourself first! Here’s why:

Parents are always running around and doing all kinds of stuff for their kids. They give them junk food, they let them make the rules and they run them through the achieve-atron machine as fast as they possibly can. But they’re not taking the time to do anything for themselves. Well, guess what? You can’t be the best possible parent to your kid if you can’t even be the best possible person to yourself! How can you expect to raise them to the best of your ability if you’re not functioning at the best of your ability?

Bottom line: you have to make time to take care of yourself – and that means your fitness. You need to schedule it into your day and do everything within your power not to deviate from that schedule. Think of it this way: if your kids see you taking care of yourself and your body, they’re way more likely to follow your example and do the same thing in the future. They’ll know that they come first. But if they see you skipping the gym, time and time again, to take care of them, they’re going to do the same thing when they grow up. They’re going to put everyone else first and let themselves fall by the wayside. Make sense?

Don’t you want to raise kids than can live their lives to the fullest? Then you need to break that chain. I’m not asking you to throw them on the back burner, I’m just asking you to make your own agenda (and not the other way around) … to be the best possible role model you can be! And that means taking care of yourself. All it takes is 20-30 minutes a day – is that too much to ask? Make fitness a part of your schedule, and show your kids that you’re unwilling to settle for less. You’ll be creating a better version of yourself and, in turn, teaching them how to be their own best version. It’s simple; put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others! Make fitness a part of your schedule and show your kids that you’re unwilling to settle for less.