Raising healthy kids is such an important topic to me, even more so now that I need to refreshen my memory on many things with the baby coming. Today, I am thrilled to have a very special guest with us Nicole Bennett from Simple Homemade. If you haven't had a chance to visit Simple Homemade you are simply missing out on some wonderful mom-mom information on raising healthy kids and what this really looks like in a real home. Please help me by sending Nicole a warm welcome!
3 Points of Encouragement for Raising Healthy Kids
It's funny how having kids changes you. And I don't mean in the obvious ways like learning to deal with less sleep, never-ending laundry and chaotic dinners. I'm thinking more along the lines of healthy living. For me, it wasn't until I had my first baby that I began really caring about avoiding toxins and eating real food. Now, just about five years later (five!), this "healthier" way of life is basically second nature to me. I still have lots to learn myself, but more and more I'm thinking about passing on what I've learned to my kids. After all, concern for their health and safety is what started this whole shift. Here are a few ways I'm working on leaving a legacy of a more natural lifestyle to my kids.
Make it Familiar The most important way I can teach my kids about a healthy lifestyle is by modeling one for them. I hope as they grow older, they'll remember and embrace ways they've seen me take care of my body, our family and the earth. I eat the same healthy, real food I expect them to, I use the same non-toxic (often homemade) personal care products I put on them and I try to set the example of reusing, repurposing, upcycling and all that goodness in my own wardrobe and in our home. Routine helps, too. By now, my kids are used to our daily afternoon smoothies. And I'll be the first one to praise the yumminess of a smoothie filled with healthy addition such as leafy greens and chia seeds.
Make it Normal To be honest, my kids are young enough to not really know any different than to use cloth napkins and eat sautéed swiss chard. They think drizzling honey on plain Greek yogurt is a treat and that we avoid "fake"-colored foods because they aren't real and aren't good for our bodies. I try to explain why we do the things we do in a way that makes sense. I don't want them blindly doing what I do, because after all, I am teaching them to be able to live like this without me someday! One of my best tactics is to promote healthy things, such as eating vegetables that appear unappealing to toddlers, is to constantly talk it up as normal and "mature." Oh, you'll probably love that when you're older, I'll say. I learned about talking about how our palate matures from Amy of New Nostalgia and have already seen that tactic work in my little girl who never "liked" sweet potatoes until she was a big four-and-a-half-year old It's normal to have preferences (I hate raisins myself after all), but I love to talk up the good stuff in hopes that my kiddos will learn to appreciate what's good for them in the long run.
Make it Fun Healthy and natural living doesn't have to just be boring and "normal" though. My kids love the excitement of seeing what's in our latest CSA box, and visiting the farm each year, and picking berries for enjoying and using to make jam. They're excited when I let them help pick out a homemade ice cream flavor (and they don't miss the fillers and preservatives) just like my daughter loves picking fabric for a new mama-sewn dress. Healthy living can mean helping mom mix up a batch of granola bars -- and that's way more fun (not to mention less-processed) than just picking a box off the shelf. And I can't wait for the day when my kids get to gather up eggs from the backyard chickens I hope to have someday. And they are going to LOVE that. We don't have to lie, convince or coerce our kids into a healthy, natural lifestyle. Going back to basics is more fun, and as we model this "new normal" in our homes and daily lives, our kids will hopefully follow in our footsteps, carrying on the legacy we've been striving to create. We can't control the choices they'll make as they grow older, but we can lay a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Nicole Bennett is married to a handsome guy and has three little kiddos. She loves sharing her passion for baby-stepping towards a more natural, handmade lifestyle. She is the editor of Simple Homemade, and also occasionally blogs at Gidget Goes Home. She loves to read, sew, surf and watch baseball, and can often be found in the kitchen as well. She'd love to connect with you on Twitter or Instagram (@simplehomemade).