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As a busy parent you often feel pulled in different directions and you have so many plates to keep spinning that it can feel like you’re not really succeeding at anything and purely getting through each day. But, I’ve realised since having the children that whatever else is going on, whatever plans we have and wherever each week takes us there are two fundamental things that matter to us as a family. Being happy and being healthy.
Because of this I have got into a routine to make sure that I am always as healthy as I can be – and that my family are healthy too. Here are a few ways that I stay healthy whilst balancing all the demands of parenthood.
I think as more choices have become available many of us have got out of the habit of drinking water but water is good for us and our bodies. I now always drink water during the day – with an odd cup of tea thrown in – and try and choose water over other drinks when out of the house too. I have reduced the amount of tea I drink as well to lower my caffeine consumption as well. Water is the best thing we can drink and often with a healthy lifestyle I think it’s just about going back to basics.
A balanced diet
I love a sweet treat, a meal out or a takeaway as much as the next person but on a day to day basis I am all about having a balanced diet, eating everything in moderation and making sure I am getting enough of each of the food groups. As a family we eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and recently I’ve been adding whey protein to our meals to make sure we’re getting that extra protein boost when we need it.
Whey protein makes us feel fuller for longer and is packed full of nutrients, contributing to the growth and maintenance of muscle and bone. Whey protein is completely natural, derived from a by-product of cheese meaning that it’s even suitable for vegetarians. We add it into things like pancakes, smoothies, pancake wraps and porridge and it’s something the whole family enjoy. Whey protein has become a store cupboard staple for us as a family and we incorporate it into meals all the time.
As well as this, I find meal planning and doing a full weekly food shop really helps to ensure we’re eating a good balance of the right things.
Exercise is really important and it’s something that I don’t do to lose weight but purely for the health benefits and to make sure the children are as active as possible too. Exercise doesn’t have to be gym classes or formal exercise. Instead it can be walking or scooting to school. Walking into town or to run errands instead of taking the car or going for a bike ride on a weekend. Walking a dog, if you have one, is fantastic exercise and you get the dog for company too!
Getting enough sleep
As a parent it can be hard to sleep enough so I try to go to bed as early as possible – usually around 10pm if my work commitments will allow – and sleep through until I get up with the children at 7am. I always feel better after a full night’s sleep and I try to wind down before bed to make sure I have good quality sleep too.
I find that whatever is going on in our lives we need time for us even if it’s just an hour to do our own things, step back, relax and refocus. For the children this could be laying on their beds reading a book or watching their favourite show on TV. But, for me it could be going for a walk, going somewhere with my camera or just having an undisturbed bath and reading a chapter or two of my book. Having time to yourself, doing things just for you really do help to restore balance in your life and make everything else seem more achievable too.
Talk to someone
Mental health is so important as a parent and we can’t function as well as we would like if our body is healthy but our mind isn’t. Talk to friends or family and if you need to, use a service like BetterHelp to talk to an impartial professional. It really does help to talk about anything from the big issues to the day to day stresses in life.
It can be really hard to have a healthy lifestyle as a parent and I know how easy it is to drive everywhere, eat a lot of quick and easy but unhealthy food without really thinking about it and to get stuck in a rut that you don’t know how to get out of.
We have periods where, especially when we’re super busy, we don’t make the healthiest choices and we find ourselves in a spiral of late nights, lack of sleep, not the best food choices and no exercise. I find that making one change at a time really helps and for us that always starts with a meal plan, getting back into a routine with meals and bedtimes and then introducing exercise and time out too.
If you’re looking to make steps towards a healthier lifestyle I hope this helps and if you have any other ways that I can easily introduce more healthy choices into our family lifestyle then please do let me know.