Healthy Living Tips for Busy Mamas
You know the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Well, I don’t know about you, but THIS Mama has a hard time being happy when she’s not well. In order to be there for our families, in all the ways they NEED us, we need to prioritize our own health. But it’s hard to imagine how busy moms can stay healthy when there are only 24 hours a day. And each day has at least 48 hours’ worth of stuff that needs doing.
Sound familiar, Busy Mama?
Unfortunately, this is another lesson I’ve learned the hard way. And some of it is cyclical; some seasons of the year and of life are easier than others to navigate.
For example, as I type this, I’m getting ready to leave on a much-needed vacation. Only burning the candle at both ends has me feeling as if a cold is coming on.
So do as I say, and not as I’ve been doing this past week. No, these aren’t overnight fixes, and they’re best thought of as goals to work toward, one small step at a time. Think of this as your how-to-stay-healthy cheat sheet or checklist. Cover these bases, and you’ll be well on your way toward a healthy-mama lifestyle.
This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.
You already know the basics: lots of fruits and veggies, quality protein, whole grains, healthy fats in moderation, avoid processed foods. But it’s worth saying anyway, because I know how easy it is to slip off the wagon with these things.
Some things to consider:
- Go back to the MyPlate basics. (Note: this is a great way to teach your kids about healthy eating, too!) And try to cook from scratch more, eat processed foods less.
- Become a label reader, if you’re not already. Watch your portions, and be aware of the sugars and sodium in the foods you’re consuming.
- Shop locally when possible. Support local farm stands and farmers’ markets; the latter often also have stands with locally-sourced, more ethically-raised meats and dairy products as well as veggies.
- If you’re considering a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, make sure you’re still getting appropriate amounts of quality healthy protein. And don’t just swap a lot of processed foods into your diet, to replace homemade dishes that might contain animal protein. (A personal favorite of mine when eating in vegetarian mode is quinoa, a South American grain that contains all the amino acids of complete protein.)
- Join a local CSA for regular access to locally-grown organic vegetables at an affordable price.
- Or grow your own veggies and herbs. Gardening is a great way to make eating healthily a family project, and get your kids more interested in vegetables. Read this post for how we made our own herb “tasting garden” that the girls “snack” on. Or see this site for healthy eating/living tips, including gardening tips.
- Need healthy recipe ideas? Angie at The Peachee Pear and GiGi of Gigi Eats Celebrities are two of my fave go-to sources for healthy homemade recipes.
RELATED POST: Why Your Kids Will Love A Tasting Garden
Stay in Shape
I know, easier said than done, right? But exercise can do soooo much to help you function better as a mama. Not only will it keep your body healthy and help you maintain a healthy weight, but the endorphins it releases will boost your mood. And getting regular exercise will also give you energy to power through your day.
Here are some hacks to get you started:
- If you don’t already have one, get yourself a smart watch/fitness tracker. I LOVE my Fitbit, and use those little hourly reminders-to-move to get a much-needed break from my computer work.
- Coordinate with your co-parent or another relative to attend your favorite fitness class a few times a week. Unless I’m sick or out of town, my yoga class time is sacred.
- Or find a gym that includes free child care for all its members.
- Or take a mommy-and-me yoga or water class with your little one(s).
- Part of the stroller set? Find (or start!) a group of like-minded mamas for a stroller fitness class.
- Work at home? See if you can build a short walk into your morning or errand-time. If we’re low on milk, I try to walk to our nearest convenience store (1 mile round-trip) to grab some more.
- Work away from home? Can you commute on foot or by bike? (My husband bikes to his teaching job most days, weather permitting.) Can you park a little farther away from the building? Take the stairs instead of the elevator? Ask a co-worker a quick question in person versus over email?
- Too busy shuttling the kids around to get in a workout? Walk around the building or pace the sidelines while they’re at sports practice or other activities.
- Still having a hard time squeezing in exercise around all your family obligations? Then make your family a part of your fitness goals.
RELATED POST: The Secret of Realistic Fitness Goals
Clear Your Mind
Regular exercise is just one way you can improve your mental health. It’s like the oxygen mask instructions on the plane: if you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you help the rest of your family?
Here are some practical pointers to put this into practice:
- Keep those exercise commitments you made to yourself in the previous step! I LOVE my long bike rides in warmer weather for working out whatever is on my mind. Walking, running, and even gardening are all good for this, too.
- Take a new exercise class that you haven’t tried before. Something unfamiliar will require enough concentration to keep you mentally sharp, and take your mind off whatever is stressing you out. (And if you’ve never tried yoga or meditation – both of which are classes at my local gym – then these have other added relaxation benefits, too.)
- Can’t get to a class? Check your app store for a meditation or relaxation app. Or use the one on your smart device. Ever since I started doing the Fitbit 5-minute Relax mode as soon as I crawl into bed each night, I go right to sleep.
- Get up a half-hour earlier and take some “me” time for yourself at the start of the day. Journal, relax with your morning coffee, do Bible study/journaling, meditate, draw up your to-do list, or whatever will help you clear your mind and start the day fresh.
- Set aside a half-hour at the end of the day to do the same. Read a good book, journal, sip a cup of tea, have some quiet time, plan out the next day, whatever will help get your morning off to a better start.
- For those times when you’re in crisis mode, see this basic list I drew up a few years ago of managing life when it sends us on a roller-coaster.
RELATED POST: How To Hack Your Morning Routine
RELATED POST: What To Do When Life Throws You For A Loop
Catch Those Elusive Zzzs
If you’ve got an infant under one, let me tell you upfront: it gets better. I promise. Don’t beat yourself up over this section. Just do the best you can while you wait out that first year, which is definitely the hardest.
For the rest of us: Longtime readers know that better sleep is an obsession of mine. So rather than go overboard repeating what I’ve already said elsewhere, I’ll just go over the highlights here, with links to more resources:
- Make sure your environment isn’t working against you. (This goes for not-sleeping-well kids as well as grownups!)
- Make sure none of these common sleep-disruptors is a problem, and fix as needed.
- Check this list of common reasons why parents in particular might lose sleep, as well as how to fix them. (Been there, done that on ALL of them.)
- If you don’t already have them, get yourself some good earplugs.
- Still not sleeping well? Try these last-resort tips for better sleep.
- How To Get Your Kid To Go To Sleep
- Need To Sleep Better? Try These
- Why Mama Needs More Sleep (And What She Can Do About It!)
- Why All Parents Need Earplugs In Bulk
- Sleep Better Tonight: Five Often-Overlooked Hacks
If the present-day isn’t enough to motivate you to take care of your health, think about the consequences down the road of NOT doing so: shortened lifespan, lower quality of life, fewer active years, etc. Three-quarters of my grandparents died before I was even born, of illnesses that different health choices might have prevented. I don’t know about you, but I want to be around to meet my grandkids!
And yet with medical advances helping so many people live longer, it’s important to consider what this might mean for your family. Anyone who’s had to take care of an aging parent during their final illness (raises hand) knows how important this is. You need to think about stuff like in-home care, diet plans, and any treatments your aging parents (and someday, YOU) might need for long-term illness.
- Use those healthy-living goals as incentives to get your backside to the gym, get your daily walks in, eat your fruits and veggies, and get enough shut-eye.
But don’t neglect planning for the future, whether it’s
- staying on top of day-to-day paperwork,
- making sure your family has the proper insurance for your needs, or
- having a plan for the unthinkable.
Keep these excellent health hacks in mind, and you’ll be a happier (and better-functioning) Mama before you know it!
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