As much as we gain when we have children, there is probably an equal amount of things we give up— late nights out, eight full hours of sleep, alone time. But in my experience, smoking by far has been the hardest thing to leave behind. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to quit, not only for your kids, but for yourself, as well.

When my wife and I first became parents, one thing was clear: I wanted to live longer than age 40. I wanted to live a long and healthy life so I could watch my child grow. It dawned on me that it wasn’t just my health at risk anymore. Almost 60 percent of children ages 3-11 in the United States— or almost 22 million kids— are exposed to secondhand smoke, which can cause a number of health conditions. Wanting to be a good role model for my family, I resolved to make room for positive habits, like exercising, and leave behind the negative ones, like smoking.

I faced one of the biggest challenges of my life when I quit. But I did it and learned it was possible with a plan. The addiction of smoking is both physical and behavioral (mental). That is why dealing with both aspects at the same time is so important for success. One of the first and smartest things I did when deciding to quit was to tell everyone I knew of my intentions. The support of my family and friends, along with using NicoDerm CQ patches to curb cravings for nicotine, was what enabled me to successfully quit. Having that support system in place was critical to my success.

I also recommend replacing smoking with something positive, such as physical activity, to replace the habit. Find a new, healthier “addiction.” It takes your mind off the cravings. Plus, if you’re smoking, you can’t keep up with the kids and new athletics you love.
It may also be beneficial to figure out your smoking triggers. Be mindful of staying away from these things. Lastly, take it one cigarette at a time. Be proud of yourself for even making the decision to quit.

When I finally nixed the habit, the benefits were immediate. My immune system was stronger and my motivation increased. Such benefits improved the time I spent with my family, too. Now, I feel more in control and more productive in all facets of life.

Other unexpected results of saying au revoir to cigarettes are keener senses. With sharper senses, you can prepare better foods for your family and encourage healthier eating habits.

Anything worthwhile isn’t easy. Overcoming an addiction like smoking may seem impossible, but I can tell you that my years as a parent and spouse are better because they are smoke free. Yours can be, too.