To all the mommas out there, you are seen and appreciated! This episode and article are just for you. Being a parent is hard. It is thankless, wonderful work. You give all day long to your kids and only get a break when you are sleeping.
Because of this dynamic, it can be that much harder to focus on your health and happiness. But it doesn’t make it any less important. And the good news is, there are solutions.
I'm Natalie Peterson, Mom of 2 girls (4 and 10 months), Health & Happiness Coach for Women in Business.
We cover a lot of topics in this episode and article. I cover tons of ideas for you to try. Just like everything else in life, my solutions should be approached knowing that every mom, kid and family is different.
Prioritizing health and happiness as a Mom is a lot of ‘trial and error’. Just because I suggest something simple, doesn’t mean that it is ‘easy’ - and I know that. But if you are here, I know you are looking to do something different, you are looking for healthy change.
These solutions will give you that!
First up, let’s talk about how to deal with Mom Guilt:
This very real emotion gets us all. It is so important to talk about that I made it my very first episode in the Mom Entrepreneur Playbook: Ditch the Mom Guilt (10 minute episode) https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ditch-the-mom-guilt
Mom guilt is a habit. I think it is helpful to think about it that way because it is a habit that you can break. Start paying attention to what your guilt is telling you. What goes on in your mind when you begin to feel guilty? Listen to what you are telling yourself, about yourself and your family - you may realize that you don’t even truly agree with this ‘guilt default’ you have been letting rule your decisions.
Once you are paying attention, next up is breaking the cycle and habit of the guilt. Begin to reframe this guilt by reminding yourself that you are setting an example for your kids when you take care of yourself. You are teaching them the importance of prioritizing their own needs and how to say no to things that take away from their health and happiness.
Lastly, choose prioritizing health and happiness for them. When you feel better and have more energy, you are a better mom. You have more patience, you are fun, you are present.
(I know I am!)
How do you take care of yourself when so many people need you all the time?
The easiest way to start taking care of yourself is, a little at a time. After a while, a little becomes a lot. Look for 10 minute windows to go for a walk, read a book you enjoy, prepare a healthy snack, fill up your water bottle, stretch your back and hips, call or text a friend to say hello. Little things like this throughout your day will have a BIG impact on your health and happiness.
Decide what you are going to let go of. You can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself. For me, deep cleaning of my house isn’t a big priority. Yes I pick up, sweep, vacuum, wipe counters and do dishes daily but having everything perfect can’t happen if I am going to take care of myself too. My house is messy, but I am healthy and happy.
When was the last time you had a conversation with your partner about what you need? These conversations have to happen. They aren’t always easy and at times can turn into arguments but you are fighting for your health and wellbeing. It is worth fighting for.
You may even realize that you haven’t spoken up yet. You haven’t asked for help or anything else that you need. Start doing that and things will change.
If you are having trouble prioritizing yourself, get an accountability partner or a coach. Have someone you are checking in with on a regular basis. It is easy to quit on yourself, not as easy to bail on a coach or friend.
Finding the time for workouts and healthy meals
Again, my advice is that a little is always better than nothing. 10-30 minute workouts beat no workout always. Work out with your kids around if you have to. Talk to them about what you are doing and why. It will take consistent effort and repeating yourself again and again (but you’re doing that anyway right?). I give my older daughter screen time while I workout 2-3 times per week. Other times I workout while she plays at the park or in the yard. Are these workouts perfect? No. Are they better than nothing? Always.
Take some time to go over your schedule. Really dig into your commitments and find out if there is anything that you can let go of. What is currently getting in the way of your time to workout and cook healthy? Are all of those things ‘essential tasks’? Start by eliminating a few of the non-essential commitments.
For healthy meals, batch cooking and the instant pot are my best friends. We also eat eggs for dinner about once a week. Think simple solutions. Healthy doesn't need to be fancy or time consuming.
I am guessing that as a mom you always have a plan B when it comes to your kids and work. You are thinking on your feet all the time and finding solutions to take care of everyone else at the drop of a hat. Start to do the same for yourself.
Free time doesn’t happen all that often and when it does I bet you spend a portion of it trying to decide what to do! Create a list of 5-10 minute activities that you can do for yourself should an opportunity arise. Keep that list handy and use it when the magical ‘free moment’ presents itself.
What to do when your partner and kids don’t like eating healthy
Be the example. Don’t try to change them through force, take care of YOU first. They will likely follow. There is a great resource for picky eaters - @kids.eat.in.color - you will love the tips that this woman (and mom of picky eaters) provides. Trust me.
My favorites from her are:
“There isn’t _____ (insert food here) available at this meal, maybe for snack”
“If you don’t want _____ (insert 2 food choices here), you must not be that hungry”
Another one liner that I got from Love and Logic is “I love you too much to argue about it”. That one works in all scenarios, not just health and fitness related conversations.
You do the grocery shopping, ultimately you get to decide what food is brought into the house. With older kids, this may be a battle that you are not willing to fight all that hard. But do yourself a favor and don't buy the things that sabotage your fitness goals.
You can find healthier options for the junk foods that the family likes. There are “healthier” versions of just about any recipe if you google it. It will take trial and error but you will find something that works for everyone.
Communication is key to all of the tips I am presenting. Communication with your spouse about what you need and depending on the age of your kids, communicate with them too. Pay attention to how you are talking about food and fitness. Make it positive.
What if I don’t have the energy to workout or eat healthy
This is a ‘which comes first’ scenario isn’t it? If energy is your biggest challenge, start by prioritizing getting more sleep. The better you sleep, the more energy you will have to prioritize yourself.
Next, don’t wait until the end of the day to workout or meal prep. Do these things first and meal prep on weekends when you have the most energy.
Start small. Start with a 10 minute walk every morning or at lunch. Get consistent with the small wins. Once those are easy, you add more. It is counter intuitive but working out will give you energy even when it feels like it is taking so much of your energy to get started.
When energy is low, do it with a friend and do something you like. It is much easier to keep an appointment for something you enjoy than something you feel like you ‘have’ to do.
Health and fitness for new moms:
New mommas, do me a favor and give yourself some grace. I know you are anxious to get back into shape or lose your baby weight. But your body has been through so much in the last year. If you have weight to lose, remember how long it took to gain that weight and the purpose that you gained it for.
If you haven’t yet, go see a pelvic floor PT (dang I wish I did that after my first, no one told me!).
Especially if you are nursing, make sure you are eating enough calories. I know the first solution for many women is to eat less in order to lose weight. But women in general tend to take that too far. When you take it too far, your body does the opposite of what you want, when you don’t eat enough, your body will hold onto weight.
It isn’t a race. You aren’t behind, your body needs to be rediscovered after having a baby.
To all the Moms who don’t hear this enough, Thank You for all that you do. You are appreciated, you are loved, and you deserve to be healthy and happy.
Questions? Email me: N[email protected]
Are you a working mom? Join the Facebook Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EmpoweredWorkingMom
I cover these topics and more on my podcast for working moms:
Come say hi on Instagram http://instagram.com/nataliepetey/
or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NataliePetey
Need help getting back on track with your healthy habits? Join me for my free, 30-day, 5-for-5 Feel Good Instagram Challenge! Every day, we'll commit to doing 5 minutes of meditation, journaling, movement, creating, and reading. All you do is take a screen shot of the photo below, fill it in with what you did each day, post it to IG stories, and tag me @katspanglerunleashed so I can shout you out and cheer you on!
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