I have healthy kids. Many of us do. As my weewomen have gotten older, I’ve realized just how healthy they are. My oldest is almost 4 and a half and my youngest 3 and I can count the number of times they have been sick on one hand. We have never taken medications or any prescriptions so when they are “sick” it is processed through their bodies quickly and efficiently.
Here are 5 things you can do starting tomorrow to keep your kiddos healthy as well. I am not a doctor, in fact my children have not been to the doctor in over a year (or two?), not even for a well baby check up, so of course this advice is contingent on your own beliefs and best judgment when caring for your own children.
1) Let them sleep! I let my kids sleep in as long as they want and if I can’t because we have school or work, I make sure I balance it out at the end of the day.
Example: If they have to get up an hour earlier than their body normally wakes them up because we have a commitment, and bedtime is at 8, we start bedtime routine earlier and they are in bed by 7. Yes, this means that I do not jam pack our days full of obligations and commitments. We do less with more attention and go slower. Zenhabits.net is a great resource for learning to do less with more meaning. Our health is my number one priority as Mama Bear and that sometimes means missing out on events that others make time for. It totally worth it!
2) Eat organic whole foods and green things!
If you do not know by reading the ingredients what is in your food put it back! Check out www.ewg.org for some awesome resources on how to by food products and much much more! Here is a link to the Dirty Dozen list if you haven’t’ heard of it yet. Also find ways to get greens in your kids. Mine tend to eat little bits raw, sometimes in smoothies and I know other Mamas that bake them into brownies. I put an array for fruits and vegetables out at most meals so they can choose and try different things when they are ready. Let your kids pick a weird looking vegetable or fruit at the grocery store to try. Today my girls picked a red cabbage and a turnip. We got a thumbs up for the red cabbage and none of us were too fond of the turnip so I’ll chop it up with our garlic.
Full transparency for those on a budget or state benefits: When I was on the State’s health insurance and nutritional assistance program with my second child, I STILL bought mostly organic milk, meat and produce. When things were tight, I bought quality not quantity to make sure we were getting the food with the most nourishment. In our state you can also use nutritional assistance and WIC at local farmer’s markets. If this is your status…DO IT! It is the health of your family you are investing in and don’t worry about the looks people might give you for “indulging” in organic products! Think about all the money you’ll be saving everyone in the long run, including you, by having a healthy immune system and family!
3) Ignore the “it’s that time of the year” talk!
The biggest hurdle I have found to creating healthy bodies for my little family is the deeply entrenched beliefs and mindset we have about…allergy season, cold season, flu season, back-to-school sickness, holiday illness…. YOU NAME IT…and the list goes on! I even hear parents repeatedly say, “oh, well, it’s about time we get sick again, we’ve been well for 2, 3 4 weeks!” WTF?!!! If beliefs are your biggest hurdle to health, let me know and I’ll hook you up with some resources to get on that!
Nevermind that we bond over our ailments because hey, it’s something we can all relate to, right?! Wrong! I leave conversations that are focused on illness and commiserating about symptoms and dismiss the belief that, well, that’s just life! No, I choose health over building relationships based on sickness. Oh goodness, don’t get me started! :)
When my children come home having ingested some of these beliefs I just remind them, that although many people get sick, we take very good care of our bodies by eating right, sleeping and exercising/playing to stay healthy. That does the trick so far!
4) Drop the sugar! (take a spoon full of honey during “__” season!)
There is absolutely no reason to feed your children sugary snacks on a regular basis. Teach your children that sugar makes your body weak (because it does). It lowers your immune system and makes every system weaker…and I’m not talking huge amounts of sugar. Set limits and educate yourself and your children. Teach them that fruit is sweet and with all the natural sugar alternatives out there now this does not have to be hard.
We eat cookies and cakes and ice cream. We indulge sometimes in brownies and suckers AND we talk about how our bodies feel before, during and after so that they (and always a good reminder for me as well) are aware of how certain things feel. Instead of making sugar a daily reality, turn it into a science experiment and observe and discuss. Today my eldest told me when we went to the grocery store where she is sometimes allowed to use her Kids Club card to get a free cookie, “Mom, I think I just want one cookie because one I feel fine and two makes me crazy!” I’m glad she has this wisdom in her body at a young age. Oh and a spoonful of local raw honey in the morning and before bed.
5) Allow your children to express their emotions!
What do emotions have to do with keeping my children healthy, you ask? More and more research is being done on the direct link between how we process our emotions and the types of illnesses we create in our bodies. There are many books written about this topic. Check out one of Dr. Carolyn Myss’s books from your local library or find a B.E.S.T. practitioner in your area and ask questions. That’s where I started but, there are many other resources out there.
Now speaking practically, our children’s emotions, especially negative emotions, and especially in young children who are less able to regulate their own emotions, usually cause one of two reaction in parents:
1) Fix it, relieve it, soothe it to make it stop because,e let’s be honest, it sucks and hurts our bodies sometimes to see our children upset, angry, sad, frustrated (we call these “yuckies” in our house)
2) Cut it off, squelch it, silence it, forcefully with words or actions bring the behavior and related emotion to a sudden halt because it triggers something in us that is uncomfortable to be with.
Do this instead.
How to deal with strong uncomfortable emotions with your children for maximum health:
1) Don’t give a shit what other people think. :)
2) Breathe…..and again breathe to literally relax your own nervous system so that you can actually do steps 3-5.
3) Acknowledge your own feeling in the moment
"I feel sad or pissed, etc"
4) Acknowledge your child’s feeling whether you agree with it (the behavior or feeling) or not.
“You look upset. I see you throwing your toys on the floor.”
5) Then BE. Just imagine yourself creating a space, a bubble if you will, from your very own heart and this bubble encapsulates you and your child and inside is a feeling of safety and unconditional love. No words or actions are necessary (unless safety is a concern). I’ve done this in the middle of the store during a tantrum. Allow your child to be held and accepted, crazy tantrum and all, in this energetic space until, yes…the emotion let’s go of your child. Most emotions pass in a minute and a half if left to be processed through the body rather than fixed or pushed down. Allow it to do it’s job so that it doesn’t’ get stuck and make your child sick. We have all experienced the results of suppressed emotions in our adult life, aware or not, it is not a pretty sight when they finally surface. Allow your child to feel and then be free. <3
Of course articles and books have been written about all these topics so I cannot do them justice in one blog post, but it felt important to get at least a little bit of information out to those who may need it right now.
And of course all these safe, holistic practices also work wonders for grown-up kids too! ;)