“It’s Not Worth It.” Don’t you hear this phrase a lot lately? We are all trying to balance our time and energies and so we have to decide if a new commitment, decision, argument, or strategy is “worth” our time, stress or sanity.
I was looking at some older memories on Facebook recently and, as I threw my struggles of picky toddler eating out to the masses, there were several people that said, “It’s not worth it” in reference to stressing over what they were/weren’t eating. I started thinking about this phrase and evaluating where I may be over-applying it in life. It’s easy to let ourselves off the hook during many parenting tough spots simply by telling ourselves it isn’t worth the struggle. And while there are definitely areas where this is more true, (i.e., throwing your child the perfect party, keeping a spotless home, or arguing with your young child about their outfit choice) I’d like to argue that character and reward come from sticking with something. Here are some topics where I think culture may try to convince us to throw in the towel, but I want to encourage you to stick with it.
Screen limits for our children
This is going be unique for each family and age group. But, boy oh boy, it can be challenging! In all honesty, this summer, I let my kids completely gorge out on TVs, Kindles and iPads. I mean, it was zombie-ville over here a lot of the time. I didn’t know how to impose limits on our free and loose summer. So, I didn’t. But that really set me up for disaster when school started. A few weeks into school, I hadn’t made the effort to work out a plan, and some really bad habits and attitudes were forming. It was stressing me out and I felt defeated. I wrote out a plan with a few things they needed to have done each weekday before they could have any screen time, which maxed out at an hour. It is important to note that two out of three of my children had utter meltdowns over this new plan. I was questioning whether it was too rigid of a plan and unreasonable. I was feeling weak. But after two days, everyone was in sync and I was feeling so much more peaceful about screen time limits. I also think my kids were liking the structure and responsibility, even though they would never admit it. Success! It WAS worth it!
A reasonable, healthy lifestyle for our kids
Again, this will vary with each family and is riddled with conflict. Our over-packed schedules make eating on the go (and often through the drive thru) so much more common than it was when I was growing up. We all want our kids to be healthy and make good choices about their health and physical fitness. This will not happen on accident. Don’t let kids’ nagging and complaining drag you to the “it’s not worth it” corner. Be active with your kids, include veggies when possible, and keep sweets as special occasional treats. You know your kids better than anyone, which means you know their cravings and temptations. Help them to reign those in while teaching them how good health affects their mind and body. Expect to win no awards and earn little praise. But know that it’s worth it. And definitely don’t beat yourself up when things aren’t going smoothly. Just stick with it!
Whether it’s every meal or a few a week, sitting down with our family to eat is important and meaningful. You have probably heard about all the statistical benefits: better grades, more confidence, less likely to do drugs… and those are all worth it! Also, our kids need to be nurtured and taught, and a lot of that happens while we are eating, looking at each other eye to eye. What is being eaten isn’t nearly as important as the doing it together part. Whether it is bowls of cereal or a three-course homemade meal, just sit down at the same time with your family. As our family gets older and schedules get busier, family meals get trickier. But, I try to make them a non-negotiable when possible. It’s something I’m trying to pass on to my kids. I want them to apply it in their families one day… and believe it was worth it!