Becoming a parent is a big responsibility and a huge life changer. Gone are the days of just trying to keep yourself healthy, now you are responsible for a small human who is completely dependent on you. Obviously, the child is going to take up much of your attention and time, with feedings, bathing, bonding… but, for your child to be healthy and happy, you need to be healthy and happy!
This Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to take a minute to make sure that you are taking the time to keep yourself strong and healthy, so that you are at your optimal to take care of your little. And Dad, if you are the one reading this blog, help your wife plan some time for herself. I am going to talk about some important things that should be added into your daily routine or lifestyle to help Mom be the strongest, physically, and mentally, that she can be.
First off, when is the last time you went to see a doctor for YOURSELF? Not a pediatrician. Take time to schedule eye doctor, dentist, dermatologist if necessary, and, most importantly, a yearly check up with your primary care physician. Having kids is difficult and time consuming. Babies and toddlers require constant attention, while grade school through high school requires rides to practice and other extracurricular activities – not to mention homework and all those challenging teenage hormones! All of this can leave you exhausted and run down, weakening the immune system. Yearly checkups are a good way to prevent disease and stay healthy in the long run, leaving you healthy to be able to possibly enjoy grandkids someday.
Next, make yourself an appointment to get pampered. Whether your hair needs a cut and color, or you just need a relaxing massage, allow yourself those 2 hours. It is well deserved! Some time to yourself can help reduce the stress hormones and improve overall relaxation. I personally know some moms that feel guilty taking this time to themselves. This is the way I look at it, you have to dress for success, humans work harder and are more efficient when they feel their best. Whether you are a working mom, or a stay at home mom, you deserve some relaxation and to feel better about yourself.
If getting pampered is not your thing, take some time for one of your interests or to try something new. Go to a wine tasting with girlfriends, or sign up for one of those trendy paint or craft classes. The point is to have a few hours to yourself without a child hanging on you or yelling for your help.
This next one is very important and should be incorporated into your regular routine. Schedule regular physical activity. Yes, exercise. Just 30 minutes a day has been shown to improve physical health and overall mood. This can be as simple or as crazy as you would like. No excuses! Dropping your child off at preschool for 3 hours? The laundry will still be there when you get home. Take that time to go to the park district and walk, or take a yoga class to help clear your mind. Not only will you get the health benefits of exercise, but you will be setting a good example for your children. Keeping your body strong will help prevent injury, allowing you to fully engage and play with your children.
Another important topic; Diet. No, I am not saying that all moms should be on a diet, but the food you consume should be healthy. It is very easy to rely on fast food when you are constantly running from work to school pickups and practices. I realize many families do not get home until well after dinner time. My family, growing up, was exactly that way. Eating healthy, home cooked meals is still possible. Use Sunday mornings or afternoons to meal prep and cook a little extra for each meal. This will cut out prep time during the week, and with extra food, can provide lunch or leftovers for dinner the following day. Healthy meals do not have to consume all of your time to cook, and they do not have to be boring. A great appliance for busy families is a crockpot. Set it and forget it. With today’s internet, easy healthy recipes are at our finger tips, literally, on our smart phones! Meal prepping can also be a fun family activity. My son loves to help in the kitchen. Eating healthy as a family will show your kids that it is fun and yummy, helping them make good food choices in the future.
Mother’s Day is about just that, MOTHERS! And if you are one of them, take the opportunity to take care of yourself.
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies!! 💜
Heather Finnegan, PT, DPT