I heard the most sage advice from a friend the other day. We were chatting about the ups and downs of raising kids; diet, sleep habits, attitudes, suppressing the desire to strangle them in their sleep, etc etc. Just the usual water cooler session amongst normal parents.
I was headlong into my usual rant about all these hardline approaches to various things in life that have the potential to have negative consequences for our, and our children’s, long term health and well being. In particular, diet.
I totally agree that over consumption of anything is generally not good for the human body. Sugar, fat, meat, dairy, screen time. Have too much of any of that shit and yes, you will tend to feel pretty crap and your body will not be thanking you.
But I also think that ruling things out with a zero tolerance approach can be just as harmful to our (and our children’s) well being.
Sure, I’m not going to plonk the kids down in front of TV at 6am with a bowl of white sugar, a shot of tequila and a deep fried block of butter, but I’m not also going to stop them having an ice cream on a Saturday night while we’re watching a movie, out of the fear that they’ll drop dead from sudden onset obesity in the next 5 minutes. Nor am I going to demoralise them socially by banning them from lollies at a party, or not allowing them to have another handful of chips; just so I don’t have to deal with the comedown on the car ride home.
I’m sick and tired of hearing and reading this fear mongering type of attitude towards life. Especially from all those oh-so-perfect parents out there in cyberspace.
I have witnessed many family and friends alike go down the path of ultra restrictive diets, mega fitness regimes or hyper vigilant parenting. And you know what? I also watched their lives suffer, their health suffer, their relationships suffer.
Because, in my opinion, any form of obsession is not healthy. Life is one giant fucking mystery, and far too short to be just focussed on any one part of it.
Moderation is key here campers.
Eat that block of chocolate, just don’t eat one every day. Go for that run in the morning, but don’t be so tired tonight that you fall asleep before your kids. Have a goddamned beer on a hot sunny afternoon after you’ve mowed the lawns, but don’t go getting pissed every night. Don’t eat a kilo of rare steak for dinner every night and leave your veggies on the plate. Work hard for that promotion but make sure you’re home to read bedtime stories.
It’s. Not. Fucking. Rocket. Science.
A little bit of everything that life has to offer is not going to send you to an early grave.
As for our kids; Let them be exactly that. Don’t allow your own newly acquired knowledge from Dr Internet to be the backbone of your parenting strategy. Go with your instincts, they are far better informed than anything you will find online. Look and listen to both yourself and your children, even if you think you don’t know – you will. Try to remember what it was like to be young again. Some of the best memories of our lives are those “naughty” moments when growing up. And guess what? We all turned out ok didn’t we…🤤
Let them explore, experiment and experience. Don’t cotton wool. It serves no one’s interest apart from your fears’.
Encourage, guide and inform your kids, but don’t fill them full of unsubstantiated fears and worries. There’s more than enough time for that in adult life. 😉
But back to my conversation at the water cooler. Mid rant, my friend cuts me off. Something I usually don’t take too kindly to, but I let it slide this time round. Mainly because of what they said.
“you also have to have moderation in your moderation. It’s ok to have a blow out once in a while.”
For me this was the missing key to the lost ark. It’s all very well and good to keep a lid on excessive anything, but it’s also OK to go fucking stellar every now and then. No harm, no foul. Just don’t make a habit if it!
This means no more self deflating guilt if I enjoy a few too many one night with the boys next holidays. No more slapping of my parental wrist if the kids eat 4 bowls of buttery salted popcorn while watching 3 hours straight of TV on a rainy Sunday.
Because once in a while, that’s ok.
So I encourage you all to take on-board this sage advice too. Take it easy on everything, your kids and yourself included. Don’t sweat that Mars bar, wine or night out.
Moderate your moderation. And theirs.