Since I have been regularly exercising and watching what I eat, I have made a conscious effort to be careful not to make a big deal about it in front of my children, especially my very grown up, impressionable 7 year old daughter.
Yes, I have discussed with her about how mummy is looking after her body and why it is important we all eat healthy food and do exercise but in a positive and child friendly way. Also I have purposefully banned the words skinny, fat, losing weight and dieting from being used in the house. Young girls have a lifetime of body consciousness to cope with, without it starting in their own homes.
Izzy has been very aware of the changes to my body and will often say “mummy your jeans are too big now” or “you look different” and I have always encouraged her enthusiasm when she wants to join in a sweaty HIIT session in the lounge. I have answered her “why are you not eating crisps anymore” and “what do you do at gym” questions as honestly as I can as I want her to feel that this is a positive change mummy is going through and not something that is unusual or focussed on self-image.
Despite all of this mum “filtering”…….at the weekend the very innocent sentence “Look mum, when I breath in like this I am skinny and when I push out like this I am fat” left me totally stumped. A tsunami of failure and guilt came over me and I genuinely felt sad. Those dreaded words have made it into her vocabulary and even worse she is associating them with how her own body looks. Obviously, I wanted to sit and blub at the idea I had let her down but instead I explained how those words and actions could make some people feel sad and that everybody looks different and it is more important how we look after ourselves and feel about ourselves.
I am sure every mum has their own perspective on how to explain body images and wellbeing to their children and I would be interested to hear those, however I feel as long as our children are surrounded by parents who are healthy, confident and happy then hopefully they will grow up with a positive outlook on their own health and body images.