Recently I read this article encouraging moms to put aside their body insecurities, throw on a swimsuit, and jump in the pool/ocean/lake with their kids. The message was that a child will remember those carefree moments spent playing with you and couldn’t care less about how you look in a bathingsuit. The writer emphasizes that “at the end of the day, it is not about me. It is about my kids.”
I agree with those sentiments wholeheartedly. And, as someone who for a long time struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food, this line resonated with me especially: “Because when women stay on the sidelines because of insecurity, we are modeling unhealthy behavior to our children...” Amen, sister!
But I think her message about throwing on that swimsuit and throwing caution to the wind can be expanded even further. It’s not just body image that can keep mothers on the sidelines. Sometimes it’s the sheer effort involved in jumping into the game. Now, I’m certainly not trying to say that most moms are lazy – quite the opposite. All the logistics involved with getting X number of kids to the pool/beach/lake are daunting at best, and downright hellacious at worst. Sometimes just pulling into the parking lot with all family members in tact seems victorious enough – and at that point it’s pretty tempting just to spread out your towel on a lounge chair and relax under an umbrella with a
stiff drink good book while your kiddos frolic in the water. Or, if your children are small enough to need constant supervision, it’s tempting to switch to auto-pilot as you relish in the opportunity to talk to any grown-up your child’s friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely get it. Rest and “me-time” is important. So is adult conversation. Both will make you a better mother in the long run. It’s also good for your kids to not only play with other kids, but also learn how to entertain themselves with their own imaginations. Sitting back and just watching certainly has it’s place. But if you ALWAYS choose the role of spectator when it comes to your kids’ recreation time, you will be missing out on some awesome memories! Staying on the sidelines is not only a disservice to your kiddos, it is also a disservice to yourself! Whether it’s body image, exhaustion, self-confidence, or another reason holding your back, don’t spend the whole summer simply observing. Take some time to FULLY ENGAGE with your kids on their developmental level, whether that means taking a “Mommy and Me” swim class or screaming down a water slide together. Put down your phone, put on your bathingsuit, and make a splash they’ll always remember!
How does your family find a healthy balance between parental spectating and parental participation?