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7 Life Lessons My Kids Have Taught Me

By , Hillary Copsey
I just sat down on a Matchbox car. My lunch today included peanut butter and jelly. The last movie I saw in the theater was something by Pixar.
My children have changed me in many ways. My life isn't always glamorous, but it certainly is better for having my boys in it. Here are the lessons I've learned and good habits I've picked up since having kids.
Always try at least one bite of a new food.
I'm not going to lie and say my kids do this willingly. But enforcing the rule for them means I am forced to follow it, too. Reading ''Green Eggs and Ham'' a few thousand times is also a good reminder.
Wash your hands often.
I've never been a germaphobe, but if you've ever had a nasty virus sweep through your entire family, you quickly realize that it pays to take those hand-washing reminders seriously during flu season.
Eat when you're hungry; stop when you're full.
Granted, my kids--like most kids--are unlikely to turn down a cookie. But even so, kids are generally much better than adults at listening to their bodies.
Enjoy the little things.
Every day, I ask my boys whether it was a good day or a bad one and what their favorite parts were. You know what they tell me? They found a bug on the playground. They had a good lunch. They talked to a friend. They liked the book I read to them. My boys have taught me to slow down and appreciate life's little pleasures.
Use your words.
Here's another time when the rules I set for my kids are equally good for me. ''Don't flip out; ask for help'' is the motto at our house. If I had a dollar for every time I've said this to my 2-year-old, I would be a rich woman. We tell our oldest son to let us know if he's sad or angry instead of throwing a fit. I'm a grown woman, but I'll admit I need this advice just as much as my kids do.
Visit the doctor regularly.
We never miss a well-child check-up for the boys. Preventative medicine is important at any age, and it can help nip health issues in the bud before they become major problems.
Get moving, preferably outside.
I hate sports. I love being curled up with a good book. But I will always, always play catch or chase with the boys. And you know what? I feel better for it. For the first time in my life, I find myself wanting to do something that makes me lose my breath.
What lessons have you learned from your kids?

Hillary Copsey is a newspaper features editor in Florida with experience writing about everything from population trends to health-care issues. As the mother of two boys, she also is versed in searching for daycares, cooking healthy dinners on the fly and playing with trucks. She co-writes the blog Not raising brats. She writes about parenting for dailySpark and