Written by: Eva Benoit
Raising young children is a beautiful and challenging season of life. For many parents, however, finding the time to do even the smallest task for yourself can seem impossible. Cooking meals, changing diapers, shuttling from one activity to another, reading books, playing with toys, cleaning up messes, helping with homework, bathing and bedtime … the list of daily responsibilities goes on and on. The constant care of others can leave you exhausted and depleted, but taking care of yourself is important and deserves priority.
Your Health Matters
When your health suffers, your ability to take care of those around you will suffer too. A poor diet can result in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Lack of exercise can lead to a multitude of concerns like heart issues and arthritis. Even stress can produce fatigue, insomnia and a weakened immune system. These potential health concerns not only hurt you, they leave you unable to best care for your children. So how can you find the time to prioritize yourself in addition to the already-overwhelming number of daily tasks?
It’s time to stop eating all your kids’ leftover food or sustaining yourself solely on lattes and sodas. No more unhealthy fad diets or miracle weight loss cures. Often these overhyped diets do more harm than good and are unsustainable at best. It is important to consult your doctor to get you on the right diet plan for your body and lifestyle. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to begin incorporating healthy nutritious food into your diet.
When you bring home the groceries, immediately wash and cut all the produce so that it is easily accessible later when you need a snack. Another simple time-saving tip is to batch cook your meals. If you double your recipe for dinner, you can easily reheat the leftovers for lunch the next day. It’s worth nothing that just because you’re eating healthy foods doesn’t mean you should eat as much as you want. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that because it’s fruit or salad it’s “free.” Make it easier to stay healthy by adding a mechanical or digital kitchen scale when you’re prepping your meals and you’ll have an easier time sticking to the right amount of nutrients and food you need without going overboard.
In addition to small dietary changes, it is important to incorporate some form of exercise into your daily life. Finding extra time in your day may seem impossible, but healthy exercise doesn’t have to be an intense, time-consuming event. The Mayo Clinic states that 30 minutes a day is all you need, and it can even be broken up into five- or 10-minute segments.
And you don’t need an expensive gym membership to keep your body healthy. Little bursts of increased heart rate throughout your day will go far in increasing your health. Watching a favorite TV show? Do some jumping jacks or push-ups during commercials. Do you have stairs in your home? Jog up and down them for a few minutes. Taking your child to the park to swing? Squat in between every push of the swing. Exercise doesn’t have to be a daunting commitment. Instead, it can be fun, creative and quick.
Improving your diet and adding exercise to your routine can result in numerous benefits, both short-term and long-term. One of the greatest results being reduced stress. While it’s impossible to remove all stress in your life, you can take steps to manage and decrease it. Reducing stress impacts more than just your emotional sanity. It improves your sleep, boosts your immune system, reduces risk of heart disease, and even improves your memory.
In addition to diet and exercise, other easy ways to manage stress include commiting to a bedtime routine, meditating, stretching and simply taking a break. And while overall physical and self-care should be a primary focus, adding a few opportunities every few weeks to pamper yourself can go a long way. Whether it’s an at-home spa day where you can relax in peace and quiet, a trip to your favorite bookstore solo or meeting a friend for lunch. Small moments like these can go a long way toward boosting your overall wellness.
Life with children can be a whirlwind, but there is always time to take care of yourself as long as you make it a priority. Soon these stolen moments of food preparation, exercise and stress relief will become a part of your daily routine. These regimens will improve your overall well-being, and best of all you will be setting an example of lifelong healthy habits for your children to see and follow.
Photo Credit: pixabay.com
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles