Our kids need us to be as healthy as possible. 5 parents share how they do it.

For the parents in the room: Do you remember what it was like when your baby first came into your life?

Love. Nothing but love. GIF from "Supernatural."


Amazing, right? But then the worry sets in.

Outside of the typical concerns about finances and child development, parents worry about their own health. And rightfully so. Almost half (45%) of the adults in the U.S. are managing at least one chronic health condition.

As a dad with two young daughters, I feel the need to be as healthy as I can be for them, but oftentimes it's a struggle.

With that in mind, I asked five parents how have having kids affected their approach to health and wellness.

1. Rebecca feels she owes it to her youngest son to live a long, healthy life.

Rebecca had her first child when she was a teenager and her fourth and last child when she was 30.

Rebecca (black sweater) and her four kids. Photo from Rebecca, used with permission.

Let's be clear that 30 shouldn't be considered "old" by anyone's standards. But more women than ever are choosing to have children later in life. For Rebecca's 12-year-old son, that was a problem.

"My youngest has been expressing his anger toward me that I had him so much later than his siblings," Rebecca said. "He's worried that I won't be around for him as long as his brothers and sisters will."

As a single mom, that made her aware of her own mortality. "Every decision I make now is to be as healthy as possible so I can be there for all of my kids for as long as I can."

2. Jake started cutting back on his working hours.

Jake is a father of two young boys and he used to work really long hours at his job at a Los Angeles law firm. Yeah, he made really good money, but that salary came at a steep price. He was always tired and stressed — and his sons noticed it.

"I would snap at my kids for the smallest things," Jake told Upworthy. "I could feel that they were becoming uncomfortable around me, and that's the last thing I wanted."


It's not surprising to see many Americans working into the wee hours of the night.

It's hardly a secret that Americans are extremely overworked. The average full-time employee now works 47 hours in a five-day work week. Additionally, almost half of full-time employees work at least 50 hours a week.

Jake knew his job was taking a toll on his health and his relationship with his kids, so he found a new employer that allowed him to spend more time with his family. Yes, he makes significantly less money now, but he's healthier mentally and emotionally than he's ever been.

"I have a real relationship with my kids now and I'm happy," he said. "You can't put a price tag on that."

3. Sheila learned that while nutrition and exercise are important, they're not everything.

Before having her kids, Sheila admits that she wanted to control everything in her life. Without fail, she ensured that each day included three square meals and two snacks — in addition to exercising.

But when she became a mom, things changed.

Now that she's a mom, Sheila sees the bigger picture. Photo from Sheila, used with permission.

"As a mom, I realized that loving and living is much more important than exact measurements of food and supplements," Sheila said. "I took a step back because as I watched my kids grow, I was able to witness the awesomeness of the human body."

Sure, she still eats well and exercises — but she's not going to flip out over skipping a meal or a workout like she used to. The big picture is way more important than the small stuff in her world.

4. Dan uses a simple reminder to keep himself focused on the big picture.

Dan still misses his dad. He hopes his children won't miss him for similar reasons. GIF from Fodada, used with permission.

When Dan was in college, his dad passed away from a fatal heart attack. He was only 55 years old.

"I would do anything to have him around," Dan said. "Being a dad myself now, it just reminds me how important it is to be there [for my kids]."

Then Dan found Fodada, an apparel company catering to dads that runs a "Red Beanie Bond" campaign providing red beanies to newborn babies.

This beanie is way more than a fashion statement. Photo courtesy of Fodada, used with permission.

These aren't just cute accessories. Putting one on a newborn's head symbolizes a promise that dads will do whatever it takes to live healthy lives for the sake of the little ones who depend on them.

"The moment you put this on your baby, you should understand that the decisions you made for your life and your health for all of the previous years of your life change," Dan said. "All of your decisions should be for this little beanie and who it goes on."

5. Emily taught herself to stop worrying so much.

Kids can be unpredictable and wild. Own it. Photo from iStock.

Emily, a mom of four, probably put it best of all.

"If you want to have ice cream for dinner one night, do it. If your kid skips a nap, get over it," she said. "I believe that worrying about every little thing makes us so unhealthy that we can't focus on what's important — which is being there for our kids."

No matter how you choose to live a healthy lifestyle, continue to do it. Your kids will be glad you did.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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