A Busy Mum's Guide to Wellness
Everyone knows that when mums take care of themselves all those around them flourish... especially their children.
But sometimes life can feel like a tightrope. One wobble, such as a broken washing machine or a sick child, and it all comes crashing down. It’s about then you ask yourself… 'how on earth do I find the time to look after my wellness?'
We get it! So we’ve sourced a few recommendations to help get you thinking about, implementing and prioritising your wellness thereby enriching yours and your family’s lives.
A regular exercise routine is likely one of the first things to drop off your schedule when you start having kids because, let’s be honest, you run around after those precious cherubs all day, so do you really need it?
Short answer. Yes.
There are distinct differences between running around after those delightful angels vs working out for health and sanity. The science of it mostly lies around what hormones are released in a stressed state vs an active state. The stressed state has far more dire consequences on your well-being than an active state, regardless of how many calories are being burned in either process.
Here are our tips to start thinking about of how you can incorporate an exercise routine into your daily life:
Multi-task with exercise
Exercise doesn’t mean just running on a treadmill for an hour!
If you have a busy day ahead of you and don’t have time to hit the gym, there are plenty of ways to sneak in a little exercise.
Do some squats while hanging out the laundry, dance around the kitchen while you’re cleaning or even try doing some bicep curls with your grocery bags!
Include the kids in your workout
Kids LOVE being active and moving their bodies, so next time you go to the park, don’t sit on the sidelines but get involved!
Play a game of soccer, take a bike ride or have a dance party in your living room and of course, jump on your Springfree trampoline! They will LOVE it, especially as kids love copying their parents! Exercising with your kids also sends an important message: that fitness is a way of life at any age.
Exercise when the kids are asleep
Once the kids have gone to bed, take that time to focus on yourself and squeeze in a workout of your choice. That way there will be no interruptions… and you’re achieving that all important alone time.
Do something physical each day. It can be as simple as a bit of stretching right before you go to bed;
As a mother, your children’s wellbeing always comes first so you, naturally, want to nourish them with all the good healthy foods to help them grow and learn… and they just want chicken nuggets!
But it’s just as important to nourish you!
Try these tips to help free up some more time in your day and ensure you are staying nourished.
It sounds like work, and it is, but it’s worth it. Not only is there less stress, because you don’t have to think “argh what will we eat tonight?” after a long day, but you also don’t waste so much food.
Your meal plan becomes your shopping list. Do a quick Google or App search to find resources to assist you with creating meal plans for your family tastes.
Make school-lunches the night before
Making school lunches is something easy to fit in while preparing your family evening meal. Pop the lunchboxes out and as you’re chopping veges for dinner, add a few more to the kids’ lunchboxes.
You’re already in food prep mode so make the most of it! Plus nobody wants to discover there’s no bread at 7am!
If you need to have quick dinners in the evening, think about doing some batch cooking at the weekend – not so that it takes up an entire afternoon when you could be out with the kids, but something that can be done in an hour and will last a few days. Again, there are plenty of online resources and inspo on the likes of Pinterest or Instagram.
So when it’s the middle of the week and you’re feeling tired and unmotivated to cook, you just have to grab something out of the freezer and dinner is sorted! A much better option than takeaways, despite what the kids may think.
Eat something for breakfast everyday even if it's just a yoghurt or a piece of fruit;
This seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many mums run out the door without having a bite to eat. How you start your day nutritionally will set the tone for the day, so try to make this a priority every morning.
A quick tip could be to get all the breakfast foods ready to go the night before so it reminds you as soon as you step into the kitchen!
Pay now for your health—or pay later
Health is not something that can be taken for granted. Whether it’s shopping for local, organic foods, or skipping that happy hour drink to put the money towards a new juicer, if it’s good for your health it’s worth the investment.
Without your health, you have nothing and your children don’t have an active mumma so focusing on it now makes all the difference.
Sadly there are just some repeated tasks that need to be done… otherwise known as chores. We all know them, we all hate them so any way these chores could be simplified so you can free up that precious time, is needed!
Online: If shopping with small kids is not your idea of a family activity, think about buying groceries online. You sign-up, pick your items, build up favourites to make it easier to re-do the shop week-in week-out.
The nice man brings your food for the week on the day you choose and you don’t even have to leave the house.
With one lucky child: An alternative to online grocery shopping: make it an activity with just one child. It’s nice for the chosen one to have some one-on-one time with a parent – the fact that it’s spent in a shopping trolley doesn’t detract from it at all, and you can actually have great chats while whizzing around the supermarket.
On your own: If neither of those suit, try have one of you head out for an hour on a Sunday evening while the kids watch TV and the other gets everything ready for the week ahead. The shop is normally done in a fraction of the time when done on your own and you might enjoy the break. Oh how did it ever happen that grocery shopping could be classified as a break …!
If weekends are the only time you have to get the house clean, set aside an hour or so for you and your other half to blitz through it, then stop. Or better still, one of you take the kids to the park while the other cleans in peace (and it’s not always obvious which of those options is more desirable).
Either way, don’t spend all day Saturday cleaning on and off, getting frustrated with the kids saying they’re bored and feeling that weekends aren’t quite what they used to be when you were out till 4am and spent the day on the couch.
Put a pack of disposable cleaning wipes in the bathroom
It means you can wipe around the sink every few days and feel like your bathroom is really sparkling. It’s the little things.
Try divide and conquer
The end of the day is hard – it should be the best time of day but of course, everyone is tired, parents are rushing, kids want to slow it down and have time with parents. And sometimes, everyone ends up in tears, even the grown-ups.
So try to divide and conquer. One of you takes one/some of the children for some play time and the other does final bits of homework with the other/s. The kids feel they are getting a semblance of one-on-one attention, the grown-ups are somehow more productive when tasked with separate responsibilities, and everything is just that little bit calmer. At least until the I-can’t-find-my-pyjamas drama and the he-took-my-toothbrush-again meltdown.
Slow down bedtime
Do you find yourself ‘playing’ with the kids in the evening because you felt you had to do an activity with them, having not seen them all day? But normally they’re wrecked and you’re clock-watching. Then bedtime is really rushed and stressful.
Instead of trying to fill their evening with play and activities, just let them spend the evening taking their time getting ready for bed. You can still make that time quality time with them, but also has a practical purpose – the end result is that they’re (mostly) in bed without the same level of stress.
Educate by example
It sounds cheesy, but encourage your children to be gentle with themselves. Encourage hibernation where required, long walks without phones and dedicating time to recharging. Also allow the body to recuperate when ill, don’t feel the need to power through and prolong the healing process.
Laugh as much as possible
Help your children understand that happiness is a choice and it helps to always be mindful of the positive side of things, no matter what the world throws your way. Find moments to laugh as a family as much as possible.
Start to giggle with them over nothing in particular and watch with delight as their giggles turn into full belly laughs. It’s a great exercise to do if you are feeling stressed or they’re testing the boundaries. Break the tension and stress with a laughing exercise.
Surround yourself with support
Positivity and support are SO important when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. If your family and friends aren’t your most reliable source of support, find a Facebook Support group that is full of likeminded mums who are there 24/7 to give you support and encouragement.
Schedule in your time
When life feels busy, finding time for yourself can seem impossible. But when you do it, somehow it just works. And the benefit outweighs the effort a thousand times over. The how, really depends on what works for you. Some people are super comfortable with getting up early and including some moments of quiet – that might include meditation, journaling, reading, listening to a podcast, exercising, painting – whatever it is that provides you peace and calm. Others are night owls and will do the same, but in the evening. Or maybe you find some time throughout the day.
It doesn’t have to be much AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT DOING IT! We get caught up in thinking we have to be doing something ‘productive’ all the time and ‘sitting around meditating’ doesn’t fit in that bucket. But guess what, that 10 minutes you dedicate to quiet is going to increase your productivity ten-fold. The simplest things in life really can be the most valuable.
Write down your worries
We picked this one up from another blog and it really resonated. How many times do you lie down in bed with a million to-dos and ‘worries’ whizzing through your mind?
Try this: Write down all your worries before bed and shut them inside a box, only to be reopened and addressed in the light of day the following morning. Whirring thoughts are safely stowed until morning, allowing you to relax with a quiet mind into a peaceful night's sleep.
Take the path of least resistance
Sometimes, you have to give yourself a break – especially if someone is sick or the childminder can’t make it or the toddler is up all night or work has been unbearable. If you need to leave the TV on a bit longer so that you can have a cup of tea and breathe deeply for a few minutes, do it. If you need to promise chocolate to a roaring pre-schooler so that you’re not late for work or appointments, or do pizza for tea two nights in a row, the world won’t end. We’re not in this for the parenting prizes – it’s OK to just muddle through. We all need to give ourselves a break sometimes and take the path of least resistance.
The key thing to always remember despite everything, as simple as it sounds, is be gentle on yourself! No one is perfect and despite all pretences on social media, no one person has it all figured out.
Everyone is different – with different schedules, budgets and responsibilities so there is no point in feeling guilty or jealous of someone else. The best thing to do is figure out what works best for you and your family and go from there. You know yourself best!
For more articles like this, visit our Mum's Wellness Hub.
You can also check out our blog, Beyond the Bounce.