Let’s face it: Moms are the busiest people in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, working moms spend an average of 14 hours a week on housework and 11 hours a week on childcare. When you factor in the rest of it — work, sleep, exercise — it’s hard to imagine how moms have a single second to themselves. For most mamas, all this time spent on the family equals a lot less time spent on the self, and it’s pursuits in the health and wellness categories that tend to fall by the wayside.
But moms need to be healthy and happy in order to properly care for their families. When we feel tired, overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious — and, trust us, we all do from time to time — we’re not able to give our kids the attention and love they need. Most importantly, we’re not able to enjoy those little parenting moments that we all know are so fleeting. Here are some simple ways to feel better physically and mentally, even when you’re struggling to find time to breathe.
- Drink More Water — Drinking more water is one of the most beneficial yet attainable health-related aspirations out there. It doesn’t require any extra money or time, minus a few seconds to refill your water bottle throughout the day, and yet it brings so many incredible benefits. Being well-hydrated correlates with more energy, high-quality sleep, stronger cognition, and better mood. Chug away, mama!
- Do More Kegels — We know, we know. Who has time to think about Kegels when the to-do list is off the charts? The truth is that doing routine pelvic floor exercises can help with so much after childbirth, and they’re not tough to integrate into your daily life with Kegel balls and simple exercises you can do while working, driving, or just relaxing at home while you watch TV. If you’ve noticed that you’ve started peeing when coughing or working out, you can probably benefit big-time from daily Kegels.
- Get Better Sleep — They say work smarter, not harder, and we think that’s true when it comes to sleep. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to carve out five extra hours for sleep each day, but improving the quality of the hours you do get can make you feel more well-rested. Following good sleep practices, like ditching your phone an hour before bedtime and using blackout curtains in your bedroom, can equate to better sleep.
- Cut Out the Sugary Stuff — When you have kids, it’s hard to avoid the occasional sweet treat. We go so far to emphasize to our little ones that the candy, soda, and ice cream should be limited to a once-in-a-while basis, and yet many of us are guilty of not putting the same limitations on ourselves. But getting rid of excessive sugar in the diet can help you lose weight and feel more energized, so it’s worth honing that willpower.
- Stick to a Skincare Routine —Skincare seems so inconsequential when you’re dealing with taking care of multiple other human beings, but trust us, it’s not! Having a good — and for moms, good equals easy — skincare routine can help you feel more confident and radiant, and that’s never a bad thing.
- Floss Three Times a Week — We probably don’t have to explain why flossing is important, but it goes far beyond achieving fresh breath. Researchers have drawn a pretty convincing link between oral health and the health of the heart, with studies showing that gum disease is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. There’s also a strong connection between diabetes and oral health. So don’t skip the floss!
- Stay on Top of Annual Doctor Visits —When you have kids, the focus shifts almost entirely to their health and wellness. And you’re so busy making appointments for their check-ups and teeth cleanings that it’s easy to forget about your own medical care. Make it a priority to stay on top of your visits, too. Annual visits to your physician, gynecologist, and eye doctor, as well as routine teeth cleanings, may seem inconsequential and inconvenient, but they will help keep you healthy so you have more time with your family.
- Limit Your Screen Time — Just like with sweets, we spend so much energy emphasizing to our kids that screen time should be enjoyed in moderation. And yet we’re as guilty — perhaps even more so— of zoning and scrolling beyond a reasonable limit each day. Setting limits for yourself just like you would for your kids can equal better wellness.
- Track Everything You Eat — Changing your diet feels super daunting, but there is one equally as impactful yet easier thing you can do to revolutionize it. Start tracking everything you eat using a diet tracker app, such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It! This alone isn’t a huge life change, but when you look at what you’re eating every day, you’ll be able to find room for improvement. Even something as simple as cutting back on sugary drinks (we see you, Starbucks-loving mamas) can have a dramatic impact on your diet.
- Spend Time with Friends — Consider this your express written consent to make time with your friends (virtually or otherwise). The fact of the matter is that humans are social beings, and if we don’t spend time with other adults, we’re much more likely to fall into a state of depression or anxiety, which can have a negative impact on our lives and the lives of our kids. Carve out friend time at least twice a month to feel more supported, happy, and self-confident.
Making It a Priority
You already know that as a mama — read: a master of juggling — any and all wellness goals are well within your reach. After all, you do it all for everyone else, so you can definitely do it for yourself, too. The key is to shift your perspective so that your wellness is a priority, right up there with your kids, spouse, and job. When you start to think of your health and wellness as a top-of-the-list priority, you’ll start to let yourself do what you need to do to get and stay healthy.