Parenthood is a demanding and busy job. And, as the summer winds down and the new school year arrives, schedules are about to get filled up quickly. With lunches to pack, homework to check, projects to oversee and activities to drive the kids to and from, it’s no wonder many parents find it challenging to squeeze in time for self-care. But, if you want to keep up with your kids and increasingly full schedules, it is important to carve out time for healthy eating and exercise. Parents, here are some ways to make more time for you when the kids go back to school:
Be An Early Riser
One of the best ways to take advantage of quiet “me” time is to be an early bird. Relish in early morning peace by getting moving an hour or two before the kids start stirring. Work in your morning fitness routine, quietly meditate to mentally prepare for the day, do some yoga or prepare your morning cup of Joe and breakfast. The earlier you rise, the more of these daily habits you can fit in.
A very effective way to keep yourself to an exercise plan is to schedule it like you would a doctor or hair appointment. If you incorporate exercise on a daily task list or calendar, you are more likely to follow through, because you have an appointment to keep. If positive reinforcement is a good motivator for you, use fun colored markers to record your various appointments and give yourself a big check mark or happy face when you’ve completed a workout.
Nothing makes a morning more chaotic than having to pack lunches while trying to get everyone out the door. In addition to collecting more gray hairs than you’d prefer, packing lunch in a pinch can leave you susceptible to making hasty, quick choices. You may be exhausted during the evening, but if you take about 10 minutes to prepare the next day’s lunches, you will thank yourself in the morning, when you have a healthy meal and snacks packed and ready to roll for yourself and your kiddos. This is a huge headache-preventer for parents.
You can also prep a bunch of meals on Sunday to simply pull out of the fridge and heat up for a quick, yet wholesome dinner on busy week nights. Also be sure to have already prepped, easy snacks on hand for the afternoon crunch. Boil a dozen eggs for an easy protein-rich snack and keep nuts and fruit on hand as nourishing “fast food” to grab and go. Stock up on ready-to-go Nutrisystem meals and snacks to take to work in a pinch or to munch on during the shuttle to an extracurricular. For your mental health: Pick out your clothing before bed, and if your children are old enough, allow them to choose their own outfits as well. Leave them in a neat pile on a dresser or a night table and you won’t have the added stress of figuring out what to wear while under the a.m. time crunch.
Walk on Your Lunch Break
If you find yourself really strapped for workout time, try taking a 30-minute walk before having your lunch. Even doing light cardiovascular exercise for a half hour can help you stay in shape and shed some pounds. Already hungry? Grab a small snack to boost your energy before hitting the sidewalk.
Get the Kids Moving
If you weren’t able to squeeze in a sweat session sans kids, round up the family and take a long, after-dinner stroll. Encourage your children to keep up a moderate pace, while sharing stories and highlights from their day. Play games like “I Spy” to make your walk less tedious for young children.
Make Time for You
While it sounds counter-intuitive, or even impossible, to put yourself first when you are a parent, you absolutely have to place your health and fitness at the top of your list. It’s important to nurture and support the very person tasked with sustaining another human being’s life… YOU! Remind yourself on a daily basis that you need to give positive attention to your overall well-being. Write yourself encouraging reminders on Post-It notes or frame inspirational quotes to hang around your home and office. Stay focused on the fact that you need time for you in order to keep up with parental demands.