My Habits Became Their Habits.

My habits become their habits

Why do moms matter in health? Our habits become their habits. But don't panic. Just pick one thing, like drinking water instead of soda.



Maryclare Maslyn has joined the Don’t Panic Mom Community to share her insights about raising teenagers to be independently healthy and all-things-fitness.

One of my favorite books which illustrates how offspring learn from following parental examples, is the 1941 Caldecott Medal Winner, “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey.

The wonderfully illustrated book tells the story of a family of mallard ducks surviving the perils and wonders of Boston.  Through presented obstacles, the ducklings learn they can trust the “big ducks” for guidance, information, knowledge and safety.  No secret there. Big ducks help little ducks navigate life and big people help little people become big people!

make way for ducklings

For some reason I had the idea that I could help raise another human being!  What was I thinking? Parenting is a daunting task, a scary task, and a demanding task in which really, I have had very little control over my children (I need a nap just thinking about the last eighteen years).   I knew my children would watch me and at times copy me  (yikes, I really do need to set up those therapist savings accounts).

I knew my habits had a really good chance of becoming their habits through a complicated series of events involving the brain, rewards, gratification and dopamine.  Who was I to think I could tamper with nature?

I knew I wanted my children to be physically active and to develop good habits in this area.  I knew physical wellness was central to my being; I felt the rewards every day in my life.  I wanted those same benefits for them.

When my boys were young, I was basically a single parent given my former spouses’ travel and professional demands.  It would have been easy to let the habit go, but I didn’t.  You need to make physical wellness a priority and the amount of time and capability will be different for each person.  Making an appointment with yourself to fit in fitness takes a conscious effort and honestly, it can be a thankless ritual at times.   But, consistency in this habit pays off in a series of emotional and physical benefits which cannot be counted in dollars and cents, although your healthcare bills should be less!

So, have my early morning boot camp classes and other group fitness classes I teach pay off for my kids, as well as for me?  Did squeezing in a gym visit or other physical activity when they were younger make a difference to them?  Did they care and do they care about their physical wellness?   Do my boys enjoy working out, moving their bodies, playing in sports and feeling good from physical movement?  Is fitness a priority and a habit for them?

Yes, they told me. Yes!  Imagine that.  I did something right.

My youngest (13) said, “Mom, I have to workout and move.  If I don’t, I feel like I am going to explode!”

My other son (just 18) said, “I would definitely say you are an example to me.  You are knowledgeable and it’s an everyday part of your life.  You didn’t really teach us, you just did it.   Obviously the classes you teach show you care about fitness and you always know how to answer my questions.”

Note the difference between a 13 year old answer and an 18 year old answer – more words!  Don’t give up, those younger teens do come to their senses.

Marshall continued, “It’s important to me because I am confident and I feel better physically and mentally.  Mom, I also help other people now. They ask me all the time about certain workouts and how to do things right and I can tell them.”

Those words, from both of my sons, are BIG paychecks.  They have developed a habit of physical wellness which will serve them and others well.  Be an example.  Your children ARE watching you – just because you’re doing it.

Meet Maryclare Maslyn, a contributor at Don't Panic Mom


I promised a giveaway today, didn’t I? This equipment will be sure to get you moving at home where your kids are guaranteed to see you sweating. I have two things to give away from Sportline Home Fitness Series.

Weighted Resistance Ball: The Weighted Resistance Ball is one of the most affordable, portable and versatile fitness tools on the market today. Plus, it’s small enough to be conveniently stored. Because it’s weighted with sand and covered with thick rubber, it is highly durable and easy to grip. It comes with an easy-to-fill air pump and a measuring tape so you know when it’s fully inflated and ready to use for any total-body tone-up. In addition to upper body training the Weighted Resistance Ball can be used for overall core training, and more specifically, to tone abdominal muscles, hips, waistline and lower back. Using a weighted ball encourages proper posture and alignment. Since this ball is an unstable source of support, it strengthens and develops your belly, back and waistline muscles literally any time you use it. MSRP $29.99

And a Plank + Ab StationA highly effective ergonomic design for lumbar and core support used for a wide variety of floor exercises including sit-ups, crunches, back extensions and front and slide planks. The Station, made from compression molded comfort foam with alignment contouring, is compression molded Comfort Foam (EVA) provides comfort assistance for front and side planks, yoga and Pilates moves. Lightweight and multifunctional it has a textured bottom surfaced for slip-resistance and can also be used for lower back support for crunches, sit-ups, and is ideal for back-extensions, wrist + knee support for push-ups and floor exercises and can be used with P90X2 on all Sphinx exercises. It is designed for durability, easy to store and simple to clean. MSRP $29.99

To enter this giveaway:

  • Leave a comment below letting us know what exercise your kids have seen you doing lately.
  • For another entry, like the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook Page and leave a comment on the blog that you did. If you already like Don’t Panic Mom, invite a friend to “Like” the page and let me know about it in a comment below.
  • For another entry, start following Don’t Panic Mom on Pinterest and leave a comment on the blog that you did.

Winners will be selected from random on Monday, January 28th, 2013 and notified via email and on the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook Page.

Still reading? Head over to this interview with Tracy Boyle, so you’ll be really convinced that Moms Matter in health.

11 Replies to “My Habits Became Their Habits.”

  1. My son has seen me doing sit ups and attempting planks lately 🙂

  2. Katie seamons says:

    I got Zumba for the kinect for Christmas. We have done that a few times since we got it and the little man thinks its funny to see me dance. He has even joined in for the warm up once!

  3. Katie seamons says:

    Followed don’t panic mom on pintrest! And I still want that cauliflower recipe maryclare!

    1. Okay, okay. Now I know you mean business. I’ll make sure that’s her next post. 🙂

      1. Katie Seamons says:

        Ha! And that muffin recipe Alli! You aren’t off the hook either! 😉

        1. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. Promise. I haven’t been to playgroup in ages, and that’s my only excuse to make muffins. But the recipe will be up and it will…be…AMAZING!

  4. My two year old likes to get down in the floor with me and do elbows and toes (planks) and Mt. Climbing. Then she likes to sit on my back as I do pushups. Lucky for he she only weighs about 30 lbs, otherwise I’d never be able to come back up.

  5. My kids have seen me doing cardio as well as joined in!

  6. Megan Burgess says:

    Lately we have been having contests with push ups and sit ups. My 7 year old comes home from school on gym days and wants to do it as a family. I really enjoy the X-Train fit DVD series and my kids like to do that with me.

    1. I love that idea. Especially because I just learned that I can do a push up! Can I steal that idea for our house?

      1. Megan Burgess says:

        Of course you can steal that fun idea! Ellie still isn’t coordinated enough for jumping jacks so we get some good laughs too.

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