As a mom, one of the most important things you can do for your daughter and yourself is to exercise together. The benefits stretch even further than the physical and mental gains you make from an active and healthy lifestyle – you will find that your bond with your daughter grows and strengthens.
Moms, let’s start with you. You are the first and most important role model your daughter will have in her life. The things you do will shape her views, habits, and also her perception of herself. Set a good example, and your daughter will follow in your footsteps. When my youngest daughter was born, I would work out in the living room while watching and giggling at my pushups and squats.
Fast forward to her second birthday. I still workout in the living room with her, and she now joins in, trying to mimic me in doing squats, pushups, jumping jacks, stretching, and lifting her toy weights. The key here is consistency. When you make physical activity a lifestyle, your little one will grow up thinking this is as normal as reading a book, eating her veggies, or brushing her teeth. So start strong and be the best example you can for your daughter’s.
Every mom everywhere knows that some days, a solid, uninterrupted workout just isn’t feasible. That shouldn’t deter you from being active with your girls. I like to plan activities with my daughters that provide the opportunity to get moving. We spend time together by going on walks, bike rides, jumping on the trampoline, playing catch, or dancing around to music. For these activities, you’ll find yourself moving at a slower pace – like when my toddler insists on stopping at every puddle, picking every dandelion, and checking out every fun rock she sees. But the opportunity is here waiting for you to challenge yourself. Assign an exercise to each break your kid takes along your walk. If she’s jumping in puddles, do jumping jacks or jump squats. If she’s picking flowers, start a round of burpees. When she is digging in the dirt and looking for rocks, start lunges.
As your daughter grows, you’ll definitely need to adjust how you stay active with your daughter. Family bike rides and hikes are still a staple in our home, even with a 12 and 16-year-old. These activities are free and easy to do with little planning. But by these ages, your daughter will have her own idea of their preferred activities. So be prepared to do what she likes, and you’ll get a lot further. If your daughter likes sports, set up a basketball hoop, volleyball net, soccer goals, etc. in your yard and challenge them to a one on one game. If they like the outdoors, try rock climbing together. You can even schedule a group fitness class together, such as yoga, Zumba, or Pound. Whatever you choose, your daughter will appreciate you investing time in the activities in which she’s interested.
I mentioned earlier that being active with your daughter will strengthen your bond, and there are many ways this can happen. When you lead by example and take care of your body and mind, your daughter will follow your lead and grow confident in herself and her abilities. During the teenage years, body issues are very prevalent in girls. As your daughter’s role model, you have the privilege of showing her how to appreciate and value her strengths and individuality.
Also, when you are exercising with your daughter, you are provided with ample opportunities to talk with her. If you have a toddler, she may just point out and name all of the fun things you see on your walk. With your older daughter, you have the opportunity for deeper discussions. She may feel more relaxed and willing to open up to you about any struggles she’s experiencing or ask questions on different topics. You’ll encounter many chances to just listen to what your daughter wants to say, giving you a better understanding of her as a person, not just your daughter, ensuring she knows you will always be there for her.