Practically every mother we know with young children wakes up around 5 and gets to bed around 9 (or later, if they try to squeeze in some Netflix and “me time” before bed). 7 days a week. Working or stay-at-home. Rain or shine. 365 days a year.
Healthy habits are hard to start and “eat right and exercise” isn’t easy when your dinner consists of scarfing down the leftover mac n’ cheese on your child’s plate after your typical 17 hour day.
To us, this brilliant parenting analogy made a lot of sense: When you’re about to take off on an airplane the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others, including your children. This goes firmly against every maternal instinct we have, but the logic is flawless. If you come to harm after helping your child, then no one is there to help you. And who will be there for your child then?
This logic applies to parenting and motherhood. We feel guilty for spending even a minute doing something for ourselves, even when that thing is taking a shower where we use soap and wash our hair (shaving our legs is often a pipe dream). As mothers we have an obligation to care for ourselves because we have a lot of people who genuinely depend on us to be okay.
5 Simple Healthy Habits You Can Start Today
- Do one thing every day just for you.
Remember the Golden Rule? Treat others how you want to be treated? Also remember to treat yourself with the same kindness. This can be as simple as going for a short walk in the morning if someone can watch the kids, doing yoga once a month, spending an extra $5 on a bottle of wine that has an actual cork in it, painting your toenails after the kids go to bed, or taking a minute to throw on some mascara. Keep a pint of Haagen Daz hidden in the freezer. Go through the drive-through with your kids and DON’T share your fries after they scarf theirs down. Every day complete one small act of “selfishness” that reminds you that you still matter.
- Get quality sleep.
I’m sure you laughed out loud at this one. Hear us out: We aren’t suggesting more sleep, just quality sleep. The easiest way to do this without cutting back on caffeine is to stop sleeping with your phone. Don’t even keep it near your bed. Let it spend the night charging in another room and invest in one of those old-timey alarm clocks (we think clocks are still a thing somewhere?). Try your hardest to go screen-free for 30 minutes to an hour before bed. The bright blue light that screens on phones and televisions actually causes your brain to stop producing melatonin. The longer you can go without a screen before bed, the faster you’ll get to sleep. Sleeping without your phone in the room will keep you from firing up that bright screen when you wake up in the middle of the night, allowing you to get back to sleep faster.
- Drink your vitamins.
When the kiddos are going through a picky eating phase and both variety and vegetables start to become a distant memory, it’s not likely that you’re going to make dinner for your children and then make a separate dinner or salad for yourself. Apart from incorporating a clean high-quality nutritional supplement, another simple solution is to “drink your greens” by picking up a green smoothie at your grocery store. For around $6 you can grab a pre-prepared smoothie from the freezer section with nutrients and benefits from kale, collard greens, spinach, celery, and apple. No prep or cleanup involved and no rotting baby spinach in your fridge. Just a quick boost of nutrients and energy and you’re on your way.
- Incorporate “mini workouts” into your routine.
Start waking up at 4am, get a gym membership, or just join your local Crossfit. No big deal. Just kidding. By “mini workout” we mean parking at the farthest end of the parking lot and walking to your destination, going for a 10 minute stroll during your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing a handful squats before or after bed. Nothing crazy, no lofty weight-loss goal, just the goal of getting your blood moving every day. If you want to take it to the next level, check out the number of free short workout or yoga videos available on Netflix or YouTube.
- Time away from the kids.
This is a big one and it doesn’t need to happen every week, but regular time away from your children will go a long way towards supporting your mental and emotional health. Asking a friend or family member to watch the kids once a month for a couple hours while you enjoy some solo time, time with friends, or a date night with your partner, will help keep you in touch with who you are without them. It’s easy to get lost in the identity of “mom” which is why so many women have a hard time when their children leave the house. It’s hard to remember who you are without them. Taking the time away from your kids to check-in with yourself is as necessary as groceries and doctor’s appointments. Remember: put your oxygen mask on first.
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