Nurture Yourself To Nurture Your Family
Why is it that our favorite TV shows and movies love to portray Mother’s Day as this glorious day where moms get to sleep in, eat breakfast in bed, and are showered with gifts and affection?
The reality is that you’ve already been up since 5 AM with a sleepless newborn, your toddler needs his 300th cup of milk, and your 10-year old insists that 8 AM is the perfect time of day to make some noise on his drum set.
As parents, we spend so much of our time responding to our children’s needs. Whether it’s helping toddlers get dressed, changing diapers, or getting to dentist appointments on time, it can sometimes feel like there is little time in the day to focus on yourself (when’s the last time you got in for your own teeth cleaning?).
But a family is only as strong as its leader and—surprise!—that leader is you! By mindfully focusing on your own mental and physical health, you are actively supporting your whole family to thrive. Over the next few weeks, we will focus on taking care of you.
This week, the Triple P Team focuses on boosting your energy. Feel like you’ve been running on empty lately? These tips can help restore low energy levels and give you the fuel needed to keep up with the demands of parenthood.
Don’t underestimate how much an impact drinking water has on your body. If you’re feeling low on energy, it’s not because you need more caffeine—your body needs water! When we don’t drink enough, we can feel, tired, dizzy, confused, and irritable. It’s hard to parent when you feel like this. Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day and refill it as often as possible. How do you know if you are drinking enough? Pay attention to when you are thirsty, and drink water. Your body naturally maintains a balance of fluid, and the thirst mechanism tells you when you need more. The challenge as a parent is to realize what you need and attend to it right away. When you’re paying attention to everything our children need, it can be hard to hear your own needs as well. Carrying a water bottle will remind you to take sips when you have a moment.
For nursing mamas, it’s especially important to stay on top of your water intake to avoid dehydration.
Mindful food choices
Remember how much time you spent researching first infant foods, reading labels, perhaps making your own baby food? Then all that time convincing your toddler to eat carrots or peas, only to have them declined? Parents work really hard to get their kids to eat healthy. But when’s the last time you picked up some baby carrots and celery sticks as an afternoon snack? Chances are, it’s been awhile.
Most of us go for sugary, processed foods because they taste good and are easy to eat on-the-go. But they, too, will make you feel sluggish, tired, and leave you craving more—not fair! One way to avoid the temptation of processed foods is to carry healthier alternatives with you. In the morning, pack along some nuts, blueberries, apple and cheese slices, or granola bars to help keep your energy up during the day.
When you are crunched for time, buying pre-cut and packaged fruits and veggies can help. Some parents find that cleaning and cutting veggies when they get home from the store helps them grab and go all week. You could also blend fruit with spinach and almond milk for an on-the-go smoothie.
It can be challenging to find time for movement and exercise during the baby and toddler years, but being active (whether it’s a walk in your neighborhood or bowling night with your spouse) is so important for our mental and physical health. And it doesn’t take a gym membership or personal trainer to get you there. Try incorporating these activities into your daily routine:
- Take a walk. Baby can go in a stroller or baby carrier, or you can simply hold baby as you walk through a park, your neighborhood, or along a trail.
- Go swimming. Tamarack Aquatic Center and Splash Wave Pool are warm pools and have baby swim times.
- Exercise at home. Squats and lunges can be done while you carefully hold baby. And all babies love to be danced with! Singing and dancing with your baby gives you exercise and promotes bonding.
- Have a race. Toddlers love to run. Run with them at a park or in your backyard. Make it into a game, such as a race, tag, or chase. A variation might be naming animals or colors when you tag each other.
- Take a hike. Bring your toddler on a nature hike. When their legs get tired, let them ride in a hiking pack that meets your child’s weight limit.
- Go on a scavenger hunt. Find a stick, a rock, a ladybug, a flower, or whatever you typically see on your walk.
- Have a dance party at home. Toddlers have the best moves and it promotes their balance and coordination!
- Learn together. Are you teaching your child to ride a bike or roller skate? Learn and participate alongside them.
- Play on the playground with your child, such as climbing a rock wall, swinging across the monkey bars, or playing basketball.
- Lead by example. Ask your child to kick around the soccer ball with you or go on a bike ride.
As the saying goes, “The days are long, but the years are short.” As parents, some days will feel exhausting while others will be a walk in the park. Take time to nurture yourself so you can nurture your family.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).