Choosing A Healthier Life For My Family

I grew up in an environment that is so different from the life I have made now. Looking back on my childhood has shown me just how toxic some of the things I grew up with are. I think my family did the best job that they could at the time raising me, but that meant I learned some bad habits along the way.

As an adult, I have had to unlearn all of it and relearn how to live in a healthier and happier way. 

As a child, my family catered to me and gave me everything I could ever want. At the time it seemed like a great childhood. Candy, sweets, toys, games, food– anything I wanted, they gave me.

Of course, this way of living was not realistic. I left home at 16 and found out that nobody else in the world was going to cater to me like that. I wish my family would have prepared me to live in the real world instead of indulging me. I had to learn the hard way that life was not going to give me everything I wanted just for simply existing. 

Choosing A Healthier Life For My FamilyNow that I’m a parent, I purposely do not give my kids toys, sweets, etc. whenever they want them.

I teach my kids that hard work is what gets you what you want in life. My kids earn rewards for doing things above and beyond what they’re expected to do normally. It can feel so easy to just let them have whatever they’re asking for, but I’ve learned that choice usually comes back to bite me later. Soon it becomes a cycle, and their requests start to come up more frequently than before. I’ve just learned that it’s okay to not give my children everything they ask for. It’s even healthy!

On the topic of food choices – I’ve had to re-teach myself how to eat healthier in order to fuel my body and not just for the pleasure of whatever I feel like eating or whatever tastes good in the moment.

I’m resentful that I was not taught these skills growing up. I spent many years feeling I would never learn how to eat right. At the same time though, I know my family was showing me love in some of the only ways they knew how. To them, food was essentially a love language. As for me, however, I’m recalibrating myself and at the same time showing my family I love them in other ways besides through food. 

Rethinking how I show my love to my family has been life-changing for me.

I have become more considerate, trying to give each family member some one-on-one attention each day. I focus on my kids’ essential needs, like laundry for example. (Some days just keeping up with that is hard work enough!) I clean some, but not all, of my kids messes as another act of love. When I think about it, nearly everything I do is out of my sense of love for my family.

What a beautiful realization that my kids will always know they are loved – and that they are healthy, too.

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Samantha is a stay-at-home mom to Lily and Isaac. She is originally from San Antonio, Texas but moved to Iowa when she started attending the University of Northern Iowa. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and Special Education, and loves the opportunity to mentor other parents in the special needs community. She enjoys knitting, reading, and baking in her free time.