If you’re a mom you’ll know how it is; between school runs, charging around after a toddler who’s into everything, and finding time to keep the house clean, cook meals, and make sure you’re dressed before leaving the house, there can be little time left to actually look after yourself. When was the last time you thought about you for a change? Put down that leftover cheese sandwich, step over that recently discarded diaper, and be prepared to look after number one – rather than someone else’s number twos.
Food as fuel
While many of us moms will grab the kids’ leftovers instead of a proper lunch, think about the easiest meals to make in between chores, or turn to takeout as the easy option, none of the above really bode well for a healthy lifestyle. The idea of sourcing ingredients, cooking a healthy supper, and actually having time to finish a meal may seem like a luxury, but it can be relatively simple to alter your diet without sacrificing any more of your own time to the slave-driving kitchen.
First thing’s first; you, and your family, need a healthy diet. Think fresh fruit, vegetables, foods rich in protein and ‘good’ fats, dairy, and snacks that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Not only will these foods help you to keep in shape and lose weight, they will also act as rocket fuel to help you get through even the most challenging of days. Think not about the foods that are easiest to prepare, but those that will set you up for whatever life wants to throw at you.
For example, instead of tucking away chips, chocolate bars, and peanut butter sandwiches, choose vegetable sticks and dip, cereal pots, and pitta bread – and the same can be said for your lunches and evening meals too. Aim to cook in bulk so there is always a healthy meal in the freezer when you’re feeling too tired to bother in the kitchen, and experiment with quick, yet healthy recipes whenever you’re feeling creative. That way you’ll easily learn a few basic meals to serve up for your family, which will come in handy on your busiest days. Caffeine and alcohol should be kept to a minimum, but make sure that each and every one of you drinks plenty of water every day. Oh, and it’s important that you keep a treat cupboard for the days when you need a pick-me-up – simply fill it with healthy snacks, whole fruit, and yogurt-covered berries instead of candy.
Repairing mind, body, and soul
Eating and drinking well is one thing, but what about fitness and exercise? Surely you haven’t got time to fit that in, right? Wrong! Completing a daily workout doesn’t need to mean heading to the gym as soon as your cherubs are in bed, or sacrificing your time to the treadmill, but is about changing your habits now; ensuring that you stay active will encourage your kids to follow suit. For example, could you go for a run before you begin the morning routine, nip to the pool or a class on your lunch break, or take the family dog for a long ramble as the tea cooks? Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’ve got the right equipment, and clothing, for the job, as you risk doing yourself more harm than good if you’re half-hearted. Compression clothing, including leggings and vests, can be a great way to regulate your temperature, support your body, and improve circulation as you move, and companies such as Tommie Copper produce fantastic workout clothes for women; just check out their product list if you don’t believe us.
Of course, fitting a workout into your day could be as simple as getting off the bus or subway a stop earlier than normal, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or cycling to work instead of driving. It’s also possible to fit simple exercises, such as stretches, squats, and lunges, into your daily routine; sure, the baby may think you’re a little odd, but who else is to know? Kids love being active and spending time with you, so include them in your workout. Sing and dance around your living room, play soccer or volleyball in the back yard, go swimming, or spend your weekends in the nearest park, or up a mountain on a wildlife ramble. Wherever you go your children will follow, and they will be thirsty for your inspiration.
Getting active and eating a more varied diet are two great ways to look great and feel much better about yourself, but being a mom is also about taking time to be you – not mom, but who you are underneath all the lists, chores, and ikky bits. Whether you choose to relax at the end of a hard day with a glass of wine and a good book, get engrossed on a series or two on Netflix, or submerge yourself in the bubbliest of baths known to man, it pays well to remember this; while being a parent is the toughest, yet worst paid, job there is, one look at those sleeping faces will remind you that it’s also the most rewarding.
Now, where did you leave those car keys?