If you’re a working mother, here's some tips on how to create healthy habits that’ll support you now and long-term.
Nourish yourself with healthy food
One of the best ways for working mothers to stay healthy is by eating well. It can be tempting to skip meals or grab unhealthy snacks when we’re short on time, but getting enough nutritious food is important for our physical, mental and emotional health.
The fact is, our brains don't work well if we're constantly under-resourced. Luckily, there are a few key foods that we working mothers should include in our diet.
Firstly, quality protein sources such as chicken, fish and grass-fed beef are a good way to boost energy levels and keep you feeling full throughout the day. Secondly, including foods that are high in essential fats keeps our brain and hormones working to their fullest potential. Thirdly, fruits and vegetables are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, so make sure to include plenty of them in your meals. Then, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and root vegetables can help us feel full and maintain our energy levels across the day. Finally, stay hydrated! It's an easily overlooked issue, but keeping well hydrated is a huge part of staying healthy for everyone, including busy working mums.
Here's some inspiration for creating healthy meals if you're a working mother.
- Chicken, fish and salmon
- Beans and legumes
- Dairy products like milk, cheese or yoghurt
- Nuts and seeds
- Wild caught Salmon
- Chia seeds
Fruits, Veg & Complex Carbohydrates
- Fresh and seasonal vegetables, leafy greens, berries
- Whole grains - brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, spelt, buckwheat and rye
- Root vegetables - potato, kumara, parsnip, celeriac, pumpkin
For some meal and snack inspiration, check out these recipes:
- Trail mix - tried and true and wonderfully healthy as a quick snack during a busy work day
- Make your own healthy smoothies to streamline mornings juggling work and kids
- Look after your hormones with these incredible hormone-loving foods
- Help your brain out with choline-rich foods and snacks and more foods to boost concentration
- Adopt some tenets from the Mediterranean diet and learn why it's so healthy
- Is fatigue your biggest concern? Try including some iron-rich foods to boost your energy
Weave mindful movement into your day
Full-time work can make things especially difficult when it comes to exercise. However, it's important to find a way to weave it in. Moving your body doesn't need to be extreme or expensive. What matters most is consistency.
Whatever you do should fit in with your day. And, if you find there's *simply* no time for it, I'd suggest really examining your schedule and attempting to carve it out as a matter of priority. Even 5 mins of intentional movement will make a huge difference to your energy levels and overall well-being.
Here's some ideas to get you going:
- While waiting for your computer to load or the kettle to boil, do some simple stretches, squats or star jumps (if you're extra energetic!)
- Use your lunch break to go for a walk - ideally in the sun
- Take a couple of flights of stairs instead of using the elevator to get to the office
- Join the kids before or after school in an activity or walk in the park
- Yoga, swimming, pilates or anything that's just for you
Whatever you do, make sure to find a way to incorporate physical activity into your day as it’s crucial for maintaining your health.
Create an environment for restorative sleep
If you've got little kids, you know how challenging this can be. We think the day of parenting is done, only to discover through the nights, our kids still need us. One of the biggest traps we mothers (really, all parents) fall into is feeling like we need to reclaim the evening/nighttime hours for watching tv or more time on devices. When really, our body is primed to be winding down in low lighting, in preparation for a restful sleep.
While it's tempting to watch that extra episode, it's vital that we get proper sleep. Quality sleep is integral to overall health. This is where our body undergoes repair and integrates learning that’s occurred during the day. It’s also crucially important to our emotional regulation and processing. Some simple ways to create healthy sleep habits include:
- Physically get yourself into bed an hour before your ideal bedtime
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and stimulates in the second half of the day
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool
- Practise some relaxation techniques before bed
For more in-depth tips on creating a healthy sleep routine, including the scientific research on why sleep is so important, read this ultimate guide to great sleep.
Prioritise fun and time for yourself
It's important to set aside time each day to have some fun and relax. Again, I get it. Convincing yourself that you deserve fun, relaxation and time to yourself may be a hard task. But, something will eventually give if you're constantly outsourcing yourself, your energy and your time to your work and family commitments.
I'm here to let you know a simple truth: when you feel abundant, everyone in your world benefits, too. It can be short and sweet, such as enjoying a cup of coffee in the sun while listening to nature. Or it could be a full day to yourself doing exactly what you want, unfettered by work or children. With a little planning ahead, your future self will be very grateful!
So why is having fun an important habit for working mums?
Doing purely playful things reminds you that you're a person too - with limits, needs and desires. Keeping a sense of fun and frivolity in your life can help you connect with the lighter side of life, and helps strengthen this aspect of levity and playfulness you'll see in your kids. It also helps you to feel re-energised and focused when you need to be productive.
The Perpetual Practice of Creating Healthy Habits
It's true that working mothers have to juggle a lot of responsibilities and often feel overwhelmed with the busy demands of everyday life. But, often it's the expectations we place on ourselves that contribute to feelings of overwhelm and stress.
Finding ways to lighten the load and take care of yourself is not only important for you but will benefit your family as well. Forming healthy habits doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Small habits, mindfully chosen each day start out as droplets, but quickly turn into waves of healthy change in your life.
Eating well, maintaining movement, prioritising quality sleep and incorporating fun are the foundational pillars of healthy habits for working mothers. And what's even better - by maintaining a healthy lifestyle yourself, as a working mother, you can teach your children the importance of living healthily from an early age. Good luck, I'm right there with you.