Ask any mom what their number one priority is on any given day, and they’ll probably all give you the exact same answer: the kids.
If you get them to list their top ten priorities, it would likely include a whole range of other parenting-related tasks and priorities – cooking, laundry, dishes, work, career ambitions for the future, or worrying about how being a full-time parent might be affecting their long-term career prospects. Then, there’s the really grown-up stuff such as mortgage and finances.
One thing that’s unlikely to feature high on mom’s list of priorities, however, is looking after herself. Yet these are two of the most important things that parents can do – a clear mind and a healthy body will help you accomplish more and ensure that you’re able to look after your kids to the best of your ability.
In many cases, it’s mental barriers that prevent parents from supporting their mind and body – such as guilt or a lack of mental energy. However, there’s a secret to bringing down those barriers. In fact, there are three:
1. Maximize time for yourself
The average mother gets just 17 minutes to themselves per day – and with so many responsibilities and obligations falling on the mom’s shoulders during a regular day, it’s likely that those 17 minutes are far from a blissful utopia of peace and calm.
The obvious solution would be to try to claw back the time that you’re spending on other tasks – perhaps by ensuring that domestic chores are evenly shared or planning ahead as much as possible. However, as many mothers know, this can seem a tad unrealistic in real life. If finding more time for yourself doesn’t look like a possible option, using those 17 minutes to unwind properly – instead of only reaching for the TV remote – can have enormous mental health benefits. Mindfulness apps such as Headspace have millions of downloads – they can help you make the most of even the smallest window through guided meditation. Best of all, the basic version is free. Why not give it a try?
2. Eat well
So many parenting blogs will talk about the importance of not eating or serving junk food to your kids. With childhood obesity rates still as high as they’ve ever been, that’s sage advice; eating nutritious fresh food (including plenty of vegetables) is the number one way to ensure that you and your kids stay disease-free and at a healthy weight – so this should definitely be your focus for most of the week.
However, it’s also important to enjoy your food – and it’s no secret that many fast-food chains use “pester power” to turn your kids into their strongest sales tools. When treat day comes, it’s all too easy to pay a visit to one of the big fast-food chains. Instead, why not get the best of both worlds by serving up some healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods? The kids will love it, and you’ll keep yourself sane by holding junk-food cravings at bay.
3. Take the discomfort out of exercise
The more time passes, the more our bodies don’t hold up quite the way that they used to. Niggling injuries, joint pain, or long recovery times are a great excuse for us to hit the snooze button instead of getting up for a morning run – or for telling ourselves that we’re too old and battered for competitive sports. However, there are plenty of ways that you can overcome these challenges to keep yourself as active as possible.
For example, taking on protein after exercise is not only a technique for bodybuilders but is also clinically proven to aid muscle recovery after exercise so it will help you recover more quickly from more strenuous exercise. That removes one of the mental blocks that can prevent us from doing exercise in the first place.
Likewise, supplements such as cod liver oil aren’t just for the elderly; professional athletes use it to help lubricate their joints so that they move more freely. There is a range of options for supporting problem areas – such as a custom orthotic for your running shoe or a silicone-free neoprene compression sleeve for knees. They’re an excellent way to physically support your body during exercise so you can enjoy the physical and mental benefits that come with being active.
It is important to always make sure that you consult a medical professional if it feels like there may be a more serious problem – an increasing level of joint pain or discomfort during or after exercise is usually a sign that something is wrong.