“I often talk to friends and clients about this balance that can seem so hard to find: Being the best parent possible while still finding time to take care of yourself.“
- Jourdan Ilardi
Harnessing Your Health Amidst the Beautiful Chaos of Parenting
Becoming a parent changes your entire life. Perhaps the most profound change is that you are no longer the top priority in your life. You are now and forever second fiddle to your child, and with that comes a lot of self-sacrifice. We do it gladly because we love our children beyond comprehension, but losing yourself in the process is incredibly easy. I often talk to friends and clients about this balance that can seem so hard to find: Being the best parent possible while still finding time to take care of yourself. I don’t have it all figured out (trust me), but I have found a few things that have helped me continue to take care of my mental and physical health, which in turn has helped me to be a better parent.
Find a gym with a nursery.
Oh, look – you already did that, you, smarty, you! But seriously, this is essential. Being able to exercise as a parent is not a luxury; it is a necessity. We need to be as healthy as possible for our children, and that means staying active. Exercising is not just a tool to get your pre-pregnancy body back but, more importantly, an outlet to clear your mind. You’ll get an incredible endorphin release (which you need more than ever), have more energy throughout the day, and be a better parent. Carve out time every day to move your body – whether that’s getting into the gym or going for a walk outside.
Let’s face it, meal times aren’t relaxing anymore. They are usually done standing up while chasing a toddler around. And that’s totally ok because that’s the time of life we’re in. But just because we are eating like madmen doesn’t mean we should be eating poorly. I find myself snacking on mini-meals throughout the day because that is what time allows for. But snacking for me does not equal junk food. I keep nutrient-dense, easily accessible foods in my fridge and pantry at all times. Hard-boiled eggs, almonds/cashews, nut butter, bananas, apples, yogurt, cheese sticks, sliced turkey, Mary’s crackers, carrots/cucumber, avocados and hummus. I try to build balanced snacks that include protein, carbs, and fat to keep me satisfied for longer: For example, an apple (carb) with peanut butter (fat) and three slices of rolled-up turkey (protein). Don’t let the chaos of parenthood lead to bad food choices.
Find moments of calm in the crazy.
I have to admit, I am definitely not the best at this. I am constantly running around/overwhelmed, and when I do get a moment to myself, I tend to fill that time with all the things I haven’t had time to do, like laundry, cleaning my house, and catching up on work. Thankfully, I have a husband who brings this to my attention and encourages me to take the few minutes I get and do something for myself. That something looks different every day, but some of the things I like to do are read, sauna or cold plunge, meditate, go for a walk, shop, sit outside in the sunlight, have a glass of wine with friends, or watch a show. It’s very easy to feel overstimulated as a parent, and these moments help to keep me grounded and reduce overall stress. I encourage you to find a few minutes every day to make time for something that brings you peace.
You absolutely, positively need a support system as a parent. Friends who understand what you’re going through – who you can call to laugh with, cry with, go to the gym with, share parenting tips with, have a glass of wine with, and everything in between. Parenthood can sometimes feel isolating. Finding time to connect with loved ones rejuvenates the soul.
As I finished writing this article, I realized I had unintentionally described Fitness Incentive. If you have ever been a parent using FI, you know it is a place for parents to unite for a few minutes of their day. A place they can come where they can drop their kids in the nursery, exercise, hop in the sauna, spend time with friends, grab a healthy snack, and be on their merry way. My hope is that if you are not already implementing tools like this that you start. And if you are not sure where to begin, look no further than Fitness Incentive.
(If you had time to read this article, you can be sure your toddler is about to do something crazy. Embrace the chaos – Happy parenting!)
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