With Mother’s Day just passed (Husband did very well after 5 years of practice!) I’ve been thinking a lot about what my ideal day would be in prep for my upcoming birthday! Like many parents who are the ones primarily responsible for the children in the family, I’d really like silence! I’d also quite like an undisturbed night’s sleep, coffee brought up to bed, along with a yummy breakfast and then to be left in peace until I decide to get up. It’s the simple things that you miss the most when they are gone!
It’s so easy as a parent to forget about ourselves. We do everything to ensure our children grow, develop and stay healthy. But how often to we apply the same ethos to ourselves. I know it’s something I constantly have to remind myself and the feeling of guilt when I actually do something for me is ever present and one thing I am trying really hard to overcome.
My children never leave the home without a healthy nutritious breakfast, normally comprising off porridge (with an array of toppings remembering the cashew butter that Jesse must have regularly to maintain tolerance), toast, fruits and water.
Me: I’m lucky if I get to finish my coffee. I always forget to drink a glass of water and breakfast is often the remnants of whatever they were eating (at the moment the crusts from the toast that Jesse very kindly throws in my direction!)
I then pack snacks for my eldest to take to school – something that provides good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate to keep her body and mind fuelled until lunch. I will also grab a banana and some oat cakes or a home-made muffin for the small one to have whilst we are out during the morning. Oh and their water bottles are filled.
Me: I don’t take anything for myself. Although I’ll probably decant my ‘warmed up in the microwave, undrunk coffee’ into my travel mug and fill my water bottle – which remains undrunk until the coffee runs dry and wonder why I’m so thirsty at midday!
Lunch for my daughter at school is packed lunch that I’ve made that morning. Jesse gets his lunch around midday. Again, for some reason I don’t seem to make myself anything at the same time.
And so the day goes on – you get the picture! I’m so concerned with making sure everyone else is ok that I don’t give a thought to myself. And the days I work (from home mostly) are much the same. The limited time I get to work means that making food, nurturing my body just feels like a waste of time (writing this down really does bring home how ridiculous that sounds!) as I want to ‘achieve’ and tick things off the list.
Now I’m guessing I’m not the only one suffering from this affliction?! So, what can we do to correct the balance?
Breakfast - get up just a little bit earlier than the kids each day. Now if you’ve got a VERY early riser then this probably isn’t going to work for you. But I know if I get up at 6 a.m. before the kids wake around 7ish I can get a shower, have my coffee and a bowl of porridge BEFORE the hoards descend. But you see there, I’ve already missed off the glass of water and my vitamin tablet. So perhaps I need to write a little reminder to myself, stuck on my coffee mug, as to what my body needs each morning!
Snacks - when preparing the fruit for breakfast it’s a good idea to make a bit extra and stick it in a pot in the fridge. This means anyone (including you) has access to tasty fruit that’s in an attractive ‘eat-me’ style. Snacks, dessert – all sorted.
Lunch – eat the same as your child. This means you’re likely to eat something healthy and less likely to put off eating until you’re starving and reach for the biscuits instead. Also, if you add a salad make sure you make more and stick it in the fridge – that’s part of tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s lunch already prepped.
Dinner – batch cook! Now this is something that I have got mastered. I probably make a bolognaise once every 6 weeks. I make a huge portion that gets divided up and frozen. The instant healthy ready-meal. All you need to do is cook pasta, some veggies, or add the salad. And don’t scrimp on the veggies – and again if we’re short I’m the one that sacrifices so that rest of the family get a decent portion.
Water – invest in a water bottle that you enjoy drinking from. Something that encourages you to pick it up. A glass is of water is not the answer for me. I really like the stainless-steel bottles that you can get and in fact I already have one but I think I need a sippy spout rather than the sports spout that my one has. How many beakers have you tried for your child in an attempt to get them to drink more? And yet we never consider this as a reason why we aren’t drinking!
If you work from home only have the food you want to eat in the house. For me that means no chocolate! All the training and understanding about a healthy diet is not going to stop me reaching for that bag of Maltesers if I know they are in the cupboard. So quite simply I don’t buy them. If I really fancy a treat one evening, then I send the husband out – or shock horror I might have to go myself. And that really says a lot about how much I want them!
Create a routine or habits that eventually become second nature. According to a 2009 study, it takes on average 66 days to create a new habit. So you have to stick with these changes for them to be become automatic.
Make the decision to prioritise yourself but not just for Mother’s Day – every day. After you can’t pour from an empty cup.