Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Real Importance of Exercise

Nowadays we are inundated with ads and health professionals and even the First Lady all telling us how important exercise is. As a former college athlete, no one really has to tell me that, however, as a mom, I am realizing that they have left out one key, important reason.

See yesterday was a pretty lazy day here. I have a lot of those now that I'm as big as a house, and I feel I'm entitled. However, I want my children to be active, and I never want to get them into the habit of watching TV all day. Yesterday was an exception for a couple of reasons. First, because of a busy weekend and a long day on Monday, yesterday Elijah slept until 9 and Chastity slept until 10. I really only had two things on my list of to-do's for the day, but they were pretty long things, and I couldn't start either of them until the kids were up. I had to strip their beds and wash their blankets, and I had to finish the braids I had started in Chastity's hair on Monday. That, itself, takes hours, at least for me, because I am not practiced in tiny little braids.

Sesame Street was already on when Chastity came bouncing down the stairs. I had spent an hour with Elijah who couldn't seem to grasp the concept of volume control, and could not sit still or stop talking. I got the beds stripped and began the first load, then sat Chastity down in front of me where she could see the TV, and began this long, painful process. When Sesame Street ended, Sid the Science Kid came on. I was still working on a row of braids, so I left the TV on, but once that show was over, I had to switch the laundry and give ants-in-her-pants Chastity a break.

I thought she might sit still better if she were watching a movie she picked out herself. So she picked out Horton Hears a Who to finish because she'd been watching that the night before, when I began her braids. Unfortunately that ended all to quickly and I still had many braids to complete. Then she graciously allowed Elijah to pick the next movie, which was of course, Cars 2. We sat through most of that while I finished the braids. It was now after noon and I still hadn't showered, so I allowed them to finish the movie while I showered quickly. Then all we had time for was lunch, a book, and nap. The kids hadn't seen the light of day but through the windows, Elijah was still having problems with volume control, and when he's bouncing off the walls he does this thing where he asks nonstop questions while throwing his head and arms into you. He never stopped moving.

I thought that reading would get them to settle down for nap, and I was determined that this nap was going to happen. I may never be as adamant about outdoor activity as I am about nap. That's just the truth. So I picked out Dr. Seuss' ABC Book, and began.

"Big A, little a. What begins with A? Aunt Annie's alligator a...a...a"
"Why is she making that face?"
"I don't know. Big B, little b, what begins with B? Barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumble bee."
"What is he doing? Is he getting a hair cut? Mommy, bees sting."
"Yup." I vowed to start turning the pages faster. "Big C, little c. What begins with C? Camel on the ceiling. c...c...c."
Elijah's mouth was ready to form words the second I uttered the last 'c'. "Why is the camel on the ceiling? That's funny!"
It was like this every single page, and I believe asking questions and being an inquisitive child are wonderful, but he never really stopped so that I could answer. He just wanted to hear himself talk, I suppose. So I read as quickly as I possibly could, because at one point I learned that if I paused for a comma, he would interject before I could even finish the page. Our time of winding down was useless.

I got them down for their nap though. SUCCESS! I was able to crochet and watch Monday night's The Bachelorette (don't you dare judge me), and since Jelani was then home, I ran out the door to run a few errands before they woke up. I came home to extra excited, extra exuberant, extra loud, extra everything children. Most people have only ever seen how well-behaved my children can be in public, so they would never believe what I'm about to say, but they were downright obnoxious. I couldn't talk to Jelani without yelling and repeating myself constantly. When I would try telling them they needed to do something, like wash up for dinner, Elijah never stopped talking or moving. He would ram his head into any part of my body he could, and tell me "no" at every opportunity. He thought he was being funny, not disobedient. Daddy and Mommy didn't see it that way. After dinner I wanted to get them out of the house and agreed to take them to a local pet store just to look around, and then maybe hit up a park on our way home. Jelani wanted to make his peach cobbler, and I could tell he needed some time to himself, so off we went. The excitement of the pet store strangely calmed them, at least for a little while. I think that's only because they knew how fast I'd yank them out of there if they didn't listen to me. As we left though, we were running low on time before they'd have to take a bath and go to bed. I stopped at a park along the way anyway. It was one we'd never been to before, and though we only had about 15 minutes there, boy did they ever make the best of it. They ran in circles around that place. "Mommy, look at this!" "Hey, this is cool!" "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" They were beside themselves. They were good when I told them it was time to leave, but I could tell their energy level was still high, and the task ahead of getting them bathed and ready for bed was going to be a frustrating one.

After finally getting them to bed, battling all the questions, the "comedic" defiance, the flailing about, and the constant repetition of what I had already asked them to do, I sat and realized the true importance of exercise.

Doctors and specialists will tell you that it is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their goals are to keep kids away from video games and TV, and keep them fit and active, so that they have healthier habits when they are older, as well as the fact that activity stimulates so much more growth for young children than the TV or video games ever could. And I agree completely!

So this morning, as it is now after 9, and my children are still not up, I only have one thing on my to-do list. See, I think everyone knows why it is good for us physically, and even mentally, and maybe we even understand some extent of the emotional aspect as well, but what I learned about exercise yesterday is very simple...very basic: if my children don't get at least one hour a day of activity, mentally, I will lose my ever-lovin' mind. 

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