Being a mom has changed everything. From what I eat throughout the day to how I talk to people to how I drive. Why? Because I now have two little sets of eyes that watch me like a hawk. And they're good imitators.
Take this example:
One day, I was getting my daughter into the car when I heard her muttering to herself. Unable to understand what she was saying, I asked "What did you say, kiddo?"
She replied, "Oh, nothing Mommy. I'm just talking to myself like you do." Awesome.
If nothing else, the past four and a half years of motherhood have taught me that kids are sponges. They soak up everything you do and when they're squeezed, it's like watching yourself on a movie screen. My kids use phrases that I use on a regular basis like "cool," "well...," and "what are you talking about?" They mimic my gestures, even the smallest ones that I do subconsciously. They've picked up my bad habits like biting my nails and chewing the inside of my cheeks. They watch every move I make and then apply it to their own life. They can't help it. That's how they learn.
In my own experience, it's role models that I emulate that have shaped various stages of my life. I've had some pretty good role models in my time as well as the not-so-good ones that I'd just as soon forget. I've learned fairly early in life (meaning my early 20s) that if I want to have a good attitude, I can't hang out with the downers in this world. I need to surround myself with good, upbeat people. And if I want my kids to be positive, then I need to surround them with good attitudes both from myself and from those that I hang out with.
I have learned what my biggest pitfalls are and I'm a firm believer that the only bad mistake you make is the one you don't learn from. Here are the top five offenders that I have to watch on a daily basis.
1. What I say. Seems like a no-brainer, but I'm talking more than just using bad language. I'm talking about things like putting people down, saying something negative about someone else, or making a comment about a news story that is not for children's ears. Do constantly point out the mistakes that others make? Then no wonder my daughter does it to my son all the time.
2. What I eat. "Mommy isn't eating peas. Why do I have to?" Busted again. I make sure that I eat exactly what my kids are eating at mealtime and show them good eating habits.
3. What I wear. My daughter wants to be just like me, so I better dress the part. Being slouchy or messy or inappropriate isn't a good idea when my clothes emulate how I feel about myself. I'm not saying I can't be comfortable or casual. But I want to look like I appreciate myself no matter what clothes I'm wearing.
4. Who I hang out with. Since my husband and I both live very busy lives, the kids are generally with me when I see my friends. I'm careful as to who I spend that precious time with. I avoid the negative people in my life whenever I can and spend time with those that will build me up rather than tear me or anyone else down.
5. What I do with my spare time. Do I spend the evenings watching TV and snacking or am I being a role model of an active lifestyle? More often than not it's the former (sad but true) but I'm turning over a new leaf and working to be more active and get my kids into that good habit early in life.
No, it's not easy. But if it was, everyone would be doing it. Disciplining yourself now in simple habits will reap benefits in the long run when your kids pick up your good attitude, good health, and become role models for others.
Angela Moore is an internet marketing specialist in Columbia Station, Ohio. She lives with her husband of five years and two children. She is also a writer and a crafter. She is the blogger at The Link Princess, and Unexpected Art: A Positive Blog.
(c) 2010, Hybrid Mom, http://www.hybridmom.com/.