In the online space, you will find images of amazing food plates, and perfectly organized kitchens beautifully put together mommies serving amazing organic food every meal. Turn on Instagram or Facebook and you will see these images. It is easy to compare ourselves, question our choices, and wonder if we can or should do better.
It can be overwhelming to look at the tremendous amount of information, photos, and suggestions. Paleo or whole-grain: what should we believe is best? Organic or conventional: does it even matter?
Whether it is lunchbox suggestions or new snack products. Motherhood is difficult enough as it is… do we really need to have all of these extra inputs to sort out?
My answer to all of this is a resounding, YES! But, with a filtered and informed lens. Look for what applies to your world. Look what can add to your world. Where can you make a change? Leave all the rest behind. If you know something is not working, then change it. If you know something else will work, find a way to implement it. If something is working, can you add to it?
They have to eat… Every day, multiple times a day.
Now, when it comes to food and my kids. It is not something I can, just not think about. I have to think about it, multiple times per day. I have to plan, prepare and then do it all over again.
Behavior change is VERY difficult. There is nothing more personal, intensely personal, than a mother’s choice for her children.
I can look back over my 7 years as a mother and there are MANY moments, I wish I could redo. There are MANY things that I have changed as a result of new information or accept that what I believed to be working was not.
One of the most difficult aspects of behavior change is admitting that what you are doing is not working. Consider it this way, if you make a dietary change and your health or child’s health improves then that is evidence that what you were doing before was causing poor health. In other words, you were inadvertently making choices for yourself or your child that was leading to ill health. That is big and scary news!
Now, we could look at this in two ways:
It could create a sense of shame or guilt that you were feeding yourself or your child things that were causing negative symptoms. You could choose to ignore the improvement in health, discount it as consequence and continue along the same path. You may even opt for pharmaceutical appeasement of symptoms which would keep you from having to enact any behavior change despite the knowledge that it is the best option.
It could lead to a sense of responsibility. You could respond with the ability to create change. You could let go of the shame or guilt attached to poor choices and consider the new knowledge an opportunity to do better. To act on the empowerment of knowledge and to face your fear that change is required.
The power of being wrong
I am not a behavior change expert and I still have a lot to learn when it comes to the psychology of change. This is coming from personal experience and years of working on behavior change with clients.
There is great power in being wrong. I look at it this way… when I am wrong, that is an opportunity for change, growth or to do better. And, it is not easy!
Personal example: My little mountain bikers!
Here is a personal example… I had a great plan that my boys would love cycling as much as me. I wanted them to find the joy in riding through the woods AND I would also be able to exercise with them. I built them up to riding 7+ miles through the woods every weekend by the age of 5 1/2. They were and still are gifted cyclists. They rode consistently for over 1 1/2 years like that. But towards the age of seven, I really had to push them to go. Eventually, they did not want to ride anymore and they wanted to stay at home with their friends and play in the sandbox.
Although, I believed my encouragement was healthy. In this example, I had to admit that what I was doing was not working and if I wanted them to love to ride, I needed to let them find it on their own. At first, the encouragement of telling them how amazing they were was all they needed. But, that was coming from me. Now we hike in the woods and go for trail runs. One day, I hope they will return and take advantage of their skills. For some reason, this was a ridiculously difficult admission for me.
We all have moments like this. The key is what we choose to do in those moments that matter.